8,000 Nigeria-bound trucks stranded at Seme border
No fewer than 8,000 trucks conveying imported goods into the country have been stranded at Seme border owing to the establishment of a new order of operations and stringent clearing process.
A visit to the nation’s busiest border revealed that the subsisting congestion was caused majorly by the closure of the popular Atlas Park previously operated by Republic of Benin.
It was also gathered that the cargo scanners at Seme were not in use, forcing the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to adopt the slow and time-consuming 100 per cent examination.
The service confirmed to The Guardian that the park was “illegally” operated, hence its closure.
The trucks on trans-border trade now make use of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) joint border post before accessing the newly opened Nigerian park in the area for trans-loading and other activities.
Investigation equally revealed that the new facility, situated on the Nigerian side of the border, is yet to be completed, causing traders some inconveniences in the transit and clearing process.
Some ECOWAS officials at the border bemoaned the traffic, noting that trucks spend as much as one month before proceeding to Nigeria.
Craving anonymity, they hinted that some of the vehicles had been cleared but waiting approvals to hit the trans-loading point.
The delay has restricted the movement of others, which now queue in droves at the Cotonou end.
The Customs Area Controller, Seme Command, Comptroller Uba Mohammed, promised that no demurrage would be charged on the stranded cargoes, as the park is run by the service.
He attributed the congestion to the “new order” at the border, adding that the situation would soon normalise.
However, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) yesterday averted the grounding of Lagos ports, an action that could have affected seaborne trade negatively.
The Registrar, Nwakohu Samuel, after a meeting with the Group of Concerned Freight Forwarders from Western Zone, pleaded with them to stay action and give the council 14 working days to address their grievances and revert to them.
He promised to run an all-encompassing administration for efficient delivery of the mandate of the regulatory body.
The agents had under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), given the Comptroller General of Customs, Hammed Ali, 72 hours to address the problem of multiple checkpoint at the ports, else they would paralyse activities at the facilities.