Over the years government through the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and several other means had made conscious efforts to ensue that cargoes exit the nation’ s port at the shortest possible time.
The most recent of these moves by government was the ejection of about nine agencies of government from the seaport, leaving the NCS and four other agencies at the ports.
While some of these moves have yielded positive results others were not effectively implemented thereby compounding the problem further.
And part of the move to ensure prompt clearance of cargoes from the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), the Apapa Area 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) a forthright ago came up with new enhanced cargo exit procedures.
The Apapa Area 1 Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Mohammed Umar, who disclosed this at a recent Customs Stakeholders Forum held at the command, said that the enhanced cargo exit procedures is an outcome of the series of security meetings held by stakeholders at the LPC to remove the bottlenecks that hinder the smooth and quick exit of cargoes from the port.
Umar noted that the new procedures will not tinker with the existing cargo clearance procedures, explained one of them to include that a container can only be released by Customs only after the clearing agent gets the signatures of other relevant agencies on the Customs Sign-off Form.
According to Umar: “We’ve come up with an idea that, instead of agents /importers getting release from Customs before finishing other protocols or procedures, bringing in your truck to start loading and the truck waiting on the line and obstructing others to be exited, an alternative of doing it better is that after physical examination you should get all the signatories of the relevant agencies. It is only after you’ve done that can you get release from Customs. Then APMT will print exit note for you, which you take to the gate, and only when the gate office is satisfied that you are through with the procedures and formalities, that is when you can send back your documents for the triggering of your bill of lading to APM Terminals or any of the other terminal that you can load your container.”
As laudable as this initiative may look, the procedure is not still simplified as the agents still made a number of human contacts which often the main reason for corruption.
The current management of the NCS has been at the vanguard of e-clearance which we think is the right thing to be done. Cargoes will exit our ports faster if all can embrace e-clearance.
There shouldn’t be need for the several signatories that the new customs procedures is advocating, the system can be further simplified if there is connectivity between customs system and those of the other agencies.
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