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Port gridlock: Customs promises to make scanners operational to ease cargo clearance

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THE Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is working on making scanners operational in order to ease cargo clearance at the country seaports.

Speaking to The ICIR, spokesperson for the NCS Joseph Attah said the service was working hard to make the scanners at the three significant seaports operational to avoid unnecessary delays and conflicts between Customs, agents and importers.

The three seaports are Apapa, Tincan and Onne port.


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According to him, when the scanners became operational, it would remove all the challenges highlighted by the Customs agents.

“The scanners will soon be operational any time from now. They have already been installed.”

Asked exactly when the facility would become operational, the Customs spokesperson said he could not give a definite time, but he was sure they would be effective soon.

There had delays and gridlocks at the nation’s seaports because the Customs was carrying out manual inspection of cargoes.

Though the Customs recently brought in new scanners, they are yet to serve their purpose. Importers, including manufacturers, are complaining about delays caused by the inefficiency of the scanners.

But Attah said the service would be introducing a web tracker that would perform many tasks to ease challenges currently plaguing their operations.

“This year, we will be introducing a web tracker app that will allow individuals to link to our system to know their status, more significantly, the status of their cargo.

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“When you install the app on your mobile phone, the status of your car will be known at the checkpoints, thereby saving you unnecessary delays.”

He listed other benefits of the app as; boosting trade facilitation, easing business, reducing insecurity, fighting against smugglers and better services.

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) had claimed its members faced operational challenges in processing consignments from the nation’s ports.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ANLCA Taiwo Mustapha said this while speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement meeting. He noted that multiple alerts on cargoes would cause delays in deliveries.

He gave suggestions on how the Customs could remove the challenges at the seaports.

“Demand for regular quarterly meetings to assist in appraisals and to tackle evolving challenges, PAAR should no longer be advisory but be improved to be a final document for clearing purposes; Seme Border experiencing PAAR challenges in data-capturing; Benchmarking should be stopped as it does not make any cargo-related sense and deployment of Scanners to ease cargo delivery efforts,” he said.

He said that the Customs Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Strike Force and other intervention units of Customs acted in ways that delayed delivery of cargoes, among other issues.

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Mustapha advised that the NCS management harmonise their activities, especially when transporting to warehouses. All other alerts should be restricted and consolidated into valuation, query, and amendment, he noted.

Nigerian importers and customs agents have complained over the years over the numerous challenges and the difficulties faced at the seaports when clearing their consignment.

An Importer at the Tincan Island port in Lagos Lekan Ajifeso told The ICIR, “The number of tables to visit before your cargo is cleared at the seaport is alarming and this is not good for the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”

Earlier in September, the Zonal Coordinator of Customs, Zone A, Modupe Aremu, had   said that scanners, which would be deployed to the three ports, would arrive in the country in 2021.

Aremu disclosed this during a working visit to some commands in Lagos recently.

 

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