Towards fast tracking cargo clearance at the seaports, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to reduce the number of trade alerts, which rose to nine within the past two years at some commands and has raised a lot of delay and discomfort to importers and clearing agents, as well as cost.
Addressing stakeholders during her visit to the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs (ACG) Zone A, Mrs. Kaycee Ekekezie, frowned at the development, especially as reported about Tin Can Island Command (TCIC), stating that much fewer alerts would be enough.
She directed that the number of alerts be reduced to facilitate trade, just as Compt. Mohammed Aliu of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A noted that it was unnecessary, as the reasons adduced for them could be handled even with one alert.
Similarly, Ekekezie lamented that as many as nine signatories, as disclosed by the Deputy Controller, Enforcement, TCIC, Mr. Dera Nnadi, were still being required for transfer, thereby making the process very cumbersome.
She assured that the agency would no longer condone artificial delay in cargo clearance, even as she directed that any agent whose cargo is unnecessarily delayed should report such to the zone for immediate action.
More so, she stressed that importers have the right to transfer their cargoes to any terminal for ease of clearance, describing the transfer of consignments as a good way to ease the gridlock at both the Apapa and TCIP corridors, so long as the customs duty is paid.
Meanwhile, Ekekezie disclosed that there has been an increase in compliance with trade procedures by freight forwarders and officers and men of the NCS, which has guaranteed the agency a N5.5 billion daily revenue.
“The role that freight forwarders play in the release of goods are part of every government’s trade policy formulation,” she stated. “Customs has deployed Internet technology to meet the policy target.
“Today, there is greater compliance with customs regulations in declarations; we make N5.5 billion every day because people are beginning to comply. With proper documentation and correct declarations, we will achieve higher goals together with you.”
However, she noted that “to consolidate on the good work and achieve this, we must adhere to all extent regulations as provided by the government, and this will not be a problem when we put the mechanism in place. We must avoid cutting corners and encourage integrity in all levels of the business.”
On his part, the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, stressed the need for frequent deliberations between both parties, while requesting the NCS to avail the agents the relevant training and updating of knowledge. He further reminded the agency of its powers to arrest and detain non-compliant freight forwarders.