Cargo congestion at the Lagos ports has worsened amidst the ongoing e-certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
NAFDAC had in September announced that its electronic licences had been incorporated into the Nigeria Single Window for Trade for processing of import transactions.
Consequently, the agency directed importers, Customs licensed agents, port stakeholders, authorised dealer banks, to get their licences in electronic formats from the NSWT portal.
The exercise has however resulted in a huge pile-up of uncleared cargoes at the ports.
The National Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Babatunde Mukaila, who confirmed this, said the e-certification had led to cargo congestion as many importers were stranded at the ports in attempt to facilitate their pre-arrival documentation processes.
An online journal, Daily Trend, quoted Mukaila as saying that the process was causing delays at the ports.
Commenting on the situation, the National Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, blamed it on agents and importers who failed to do what they were supposed to do.
He told our correspondent that importers and their agents were supposed to conclude all documentation and the NAFDAC certification before the arrival of their cargo, but noted that most of them would leave many things unattended to because they wanted to cut corners.
He blamed some importers who would refuse to pay their clearing fees or pay half of the amount hoping that they would get the Bill of Lading sent to them so they could go back and connive with government officials at the port and take away the goods without paying.
The SNFF coordinator absolved NAFDAC of any blame, arguing that NAFDAC-regulated products were not enough to constitute port congestion.
He said the e-certification would go a long way in checking fraud and activities of agents who forged signatures of NAFDAC officials to avoid paying fees.
He also maintained that the situation was partly caused by the border closure as most people who loved to bring products through the border now had no option but to transport them through the sea.