By Adegboyega Oni
The Nigeria Customs Service has been challenged to contribute more to the Ease of Doing Business in the nation’s seaports in 2020 by providing cargo scanning machines to make cargo clearance fast and stress free.
Mr. Joe Sanni, National Publicity Secretary of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), challenged the Customs while reviewing cargo clearance in 2019 in a telephone chat with PortNews in Lagos last week.
Mr. Sanni advocated for honesty on the part of the customs and genuine declaration of cargo documents by importers and customs agents, saying that once this is established there won’t be customs interventions outside the ports.
‘’In cargo clearance, the challenges are the examination of cargo processes, and cargo-in-transit to warehouses. At the examination bays, if only scanners can be deployed in all the terminals in 2020, then Nigeria would have aligned itself with the international best practices of ensuring that cargoes are exited from ports, especially our seaports between 3-12 hours for honest declaration.
‘’For honest ones, such will have to be sorted out before exiting the ports, which might take days. If all righteousness is fulfilled within the ports, interventions by special units outside the ports area will be unnecessary,’’ said Sanni who advocated for sharing of information among the units of customs and between customs and other government agencies.
‘’I will be advocating for the sharing of information within the units of customs, to ensure that all security and customs–related issues are dealt with inside the ports before it (cargo) exits.
’’Similarly, Customs should endeavour to share information with other sister government agencies to facilitate transactions in the ports system,’’ he said.
Sanni noted that the bad port access roads with the attendant traffic gridlock caused a lot of economic damage to the port industry and the nation’s economy at large in 2019 while he called on the federal government to revamp the port access roads to boost movement of cargo in and out of the ports.
He said. ‘’the issue of the access roads should be squarely dealt with by the government to enable cargoes easily access destined warehouses.’’
Sanni however called for automation of cargo processing to boost easy of doing business, saying ‘’all the processes and transactions/services offered by the shipping companies and terminal operators should be automated such that no one will visit their offices physically before transacting businesses with them.’’