Clearing agents’ strike grounds activities at Lagos airport
Clearing agents at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, yesterday embarked on industrial action in protest against a new policy introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Lagos Airport Command.
The protest, which began in the afternoon, grounded activities at the cargo section of the airport.
The agents, it was learnt, accused the command of raising mandatory charges on consignments by 300 per cent. The alleged directive credited to the Customs Area Comptroller, MMA Command, Jayne Shoboiki, is that all consignments must as from July 13, 2018 be on Form M.
Immediately the protest began, Customs at the airport command locked the long room, while the leaderships of the clearing agents ordered their members to vacate the premises.
A member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chris Nwabuzor, explained to reporters that most of the policies introduced by the Comptroller could not work at the airport as some of their consignments do not fall into the category directed by the command.
Nwabuzor said: “Since this new comptroller came on board, it has been from one crisis to the other. Initially, she claimed that Customs introduced new system which would enhance clearance of cargo at the airport, but with several challenges. In fact, most of the consignments we were supposed to clear entered demurrage in the process.
“Today again, the command sent out a circular that as from July 13, 2018, which is two weeks from now, all consignments, must be on Form M, which is not possible. Form M is for huge consignments, but some of our consignments do not fall into that category. For instance, if you want to clear one kilogramme of goods now, it must be on Form M.
“Even at the seaport, car importation and clearance do not fall under Form M. How come goods of just one kilogrammme and more will now fall under this category,” he queried.
The Customs command PRO, Haruna Ephraim, confirmed the circular, but said it was not for immediate implementation.
Ephraim, however, said that the command had new machines which were installed recently, adding that the system recognised only those information.
“We have not given any deadline, we just issued them a circular today (Monday) informing them that from July 13, they should make sure all their consignments coming into the country are on Form M.
“We ought to have commenced the policy immediately, but they complained that some of the consignments were already ordered and we gave them enough time to plan ahead,” the PRO said.