The Nigeria Customs Service has been urged to improve on trade facilitation at the port by deploying modern ICT tools in order to attract more cargoes to the nation’s port.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) gave the advice when he received the Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone ‘A’, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs (ACG) Charles Edike who paid him on a courtesy visit last weekend
Bello said modern trade facilitation is anchored on ICT and if embraced would bring about efficiency, predictability and transparency in cargo clearance process adding that automation will also help minimise human contact thereby eliminating corruption at the port.
He said there is need for collaboration between the Council and the Service to achieve a 48 hours cargo clearance process in the port in line with the mandate of the federal government.
“Customs has been alive to it responsibilities and it is a catalyst for trade facilitation. With the way our economy is going, we have no choice but to improve on trade facilitation so that the maritime industry will rightly take its place as major revenue earner for the economy.
“We believe that modern trade facilitation is anchored on automation. This will bring about the much needed transparency, predictability and efficiency.
“Automation of the processes of cargo is one of our cardinal function but we cannot do it alone so we need the customs for us to come together. There must be frequent forum so that people we know that we are serious about this automation. There is corruption in the system and one of the easiest ways to banish it is through deployment of ICT. This is the time for technology at the port and together with customs, we can achieve it,” he said.
Bello said Customs should be the lead agency to champion the course of single window in the country for it to be at par with other developed countries. He noted that the situation where scanners at the port are not utilized because they are non functional should be quickly looked into by the customs management.
He said the Council had received lot of complaints from port users associated with delays in clearance of goods some of which he said had not been responded to by the Customs management.
“There are times we don’t get response from Customs headquarters to Shippers council official letters of complaints. Our complain unit is set up to facilitate complain and expedite action for stakeholders. In the process ,they receive complaints and required the attention of customs but some of the letters did not receive any response. This is a recent thing because in the past, we have had prompt response,” he said.
Bello also called on the customs boss to help resuscitate the quarterly meeting which serves as a forum where service providers, agents and other stakeholders meet to discuss issues relating to cargo clearance and solutions proffered.
Responding, Edike highlighted some of the effort put in place by the Customs management to ensure that trade is facilitated including acquisition of new scanners at the ports.
He said” the Comptroller General during his last visit said they have already agreed to buy scanners but they are now looking for vendors. That sounds encouraging because I knew the pain I went through as CAC Apapa when all the scanners collapsed. With the zeal the CG is working with, I know within a short time, the issue of scanners will come to an end.
He said the Service is still very keen and working towards achieving the single window platform to help minimize human contact at the port.
Edike said that the Service will also continue to collaborate with the Council to achieve efficiency in cargo clearance at the port.
He promised to forward the complaints raised to the Service while noting that some which could be handled by the zone would be looked into.
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