The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) have disagreed over the attainment of 48-hour cargo clearance target at the nation’s seaport.
While the founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, believes in the actualization of 48-hour cargo clearance, the National President of NCMDLCA, Lucky Amiwero said actualizing the target will remain a mirage.
According to Aniebonam, achieving 48-hour cargo clearance in Nigeria is possible if stakeholders begin to respect the rules of engagement.
He said, “It is possible. The problem bedevilling our ports is human element; people are not ready to get themselves engaged in respecting the rules of engagement. This can however be narrowed down to corruption.
“Everybody knows that we need to have infrastructure and some other things like that but the capacity of people to obey the rule of engagement is the issue. For instance, what lead to congestion is the number of cargo that go into the ports; if it outnumbers the ones that go out then it is congestion. Even if you look at the issue of infrastructures, machinery and all of that, if people are not compliant to regulation nothing will work.”
Aniebonam said government must bear the blame for delayed clearance at the ports due to the inability of its agencies to enforce regulations.
“We can put this blame of inability to clear cargo at the doors of the government because laws are made to be broken and if we don’t enforce our regulations, people will not respect us so there is need for us to obey the law and where people fail to obey the law, it should be enforced. Enforcement is about arrest and prosecution and that gives a very clear line,” he stated.
Amiwero, on his part, said achieving 48-hour cargo clearance is a herculean task especially in the face of non-implementation of relevant conventions guiding trade and importation by the Federal Government.
“In all honesty, it is not achievable because we have a lot of processes. Import trade is not only about transportation because in import trade we have three components which is the procedure, process and logistics. In all these parts, there are conventions guiding them which we have not implemented,” he stated.
Amiwero also identified the poor condition of the ports access roads as a obstacle militating against achieving 48-hour cargo clearance.
“If you look at our ports access roads, for instance, going to any port within the western zone is blocked. You spend almost a whole day accessing the ports, it is a minus. If you look at our port system, it has not gotten to the stage where internationally based conventions that have to do with ports procedures and processes are being complied with.
“When we look at classification and valuation, we don’t comply with them, we value goods, we try to enforce revenue, we don’t follow the principle of value which has to do with classification,” he stated.