There have been pleas from different associations regarding the containers trapped in various ports across Nigeria following the ban of third-party clearance by the Nigeria Customs Service.
The Vice-President, Western Zone of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF), Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, and the National President of Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero have urged Customs to relax the sanction to enable the trapped containers offload.
The customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had directed all Area Controllers to suspend the release, forthwith till further notice, any cargoes with discrepancies in their documentation. This order was passed through a circular signed by Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of Tariff and Trade, Mr. Isa Talatu.
Third-party clearance is the hawking of operating license by a licensed customs agent for financial gains. This practice is said to allow the agent to cut corners and short-change the government.
Impact of delay in offloading
Various associations in the container and port business are groaning over the ban, arguing it’s causing more pain than good. Ibrahim has suggested Customs lift the ban to allow containers already underway before the announcement of the order offload, while containers that embarked on the journey after the circular can be punished.
Ibrahim who serves as the Vice-president of NAGAFF warns that the delay of the offloading of these containers could result in a ripple effect across value-chain, increasing the cost of goods in the market. Stating that customers will be the one to bear the cost of operation.
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“if this action is not reversed to allow those trapped containers to go, this will lead to port congestion, accumulation of overtime cargo and huge demurrage at shipping companies and terminal operators. it will also lead to high cost of goods in the market as the final costs will be transferred to the consumers,” tanko said.
The Vice-president of NAGAFF, Ibrahim, believes the move by customs is fair, but plead with Customs to temper justice with mercy, citing about 5000 containers are currently trapped in the Lagos ports and many more across the country.
“unless customs grants amnesty for this category of containers and allow them to go, they will rot away at the port because it is not possible to issue another paar on them.
“as leaders of the association, we are pleading for clemency. we know those freight forwarders involved in this practice are wrong while the customs is right on its decision. however, the instant enforcement of this directive has paralysed the port activities.
the vibrancy of the port has slowed down and grounded to a standstill. we appeal that the customs should give time to stop this unwholesome practice, “tanko added.
NCMDLCA advise to the Federal Government
The Federal Government have been urged by the National President of NCMDLCA, Lucky Amiwero to tailor the import and export procedure to meet international practice. He stressed the need to resolve the challenges resulting from the import, export and transit regulatory procedure.