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Stakeholders decry obstruction of cargo clearance by agencies

By Adaku Onyenucheya
27 November 2020   |   12:52 am
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have continued to groan over government agencies activities in cargo clearing processes and procedures at the ports, which they claim affect economic recovery initiatives adversely.

Stakeholders in the maritime sector have continued to groan over government agencies activities in cargo clearing processes and procedures at the ports, which they claim affect economic recovery initiatives adversely.

They listed the government agencies at the ports as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Agency for Food Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Plant Quarantine, State Security Services (SSS), Police Anti Bomb Squad, and the Port Police.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in a statement recently, flayed the multiple units of Customs and other government agencies in the port for obstructing easy cargo clearance.

The Chamber said it had become a matter of urgency, as it was disturbed by the challenges faced by Nigerian businesses during cargo clearance at the nation’s ports, pointing that the issue was badly hurting investors and adversely affecting the economy.

Some of the issues of concerns, according to the Chamber, include undue delays, weak application of technology, arbitrariness in valuation, impunity, uncertainty of international trade transactions, cost escalation, negative investment climate perception, ineffective mode of seeking redress, pervasive human interface, amongst others.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, Sea Empowerment Initiative, Dr. Francis Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu, in a chat, said the underlying factor is that the system as regards trade facilitation in Nigeria generally is grossly deficient.

“The effect of this non-compliance with stipulated international best practices in trade facilitation gave rise to the multiple collection desks inside Nigerian ports, not only on the side of NCS, but at the various shipping companies, terminal operators, government agencies and lately on roads exiting from the ports,” he said.

A chieftain of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Joe Sanni, in a chat confirmed that there are numerous clearing desks in the ports, stating that some people and some government agencies just decided to make the ports their father’s farmland, where they continue to extort gullible agents/importers.

Another ANLCA chieftain, Anthony Anakebe, insisted that the different units of government agencies are creating setbacks to the ease of doing business, as they accumulate demurrage for both shipping and terminal operators.

The National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah, told The Guardian that proper clearing procedures must be done at the port, especially as importers make false declaration of consignments.