Clearing agents operating at the Lilypond Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have accused government agencies of undue interference in the cargo clearance process at the command.
Speaking on Wednesday at the end of a closed door stakeholders meeting initiated by the Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Talatu Isa which had in attendance representatives of the government agencies, operator of the Lilypond terminal and clearing agents, Chairman, Association Of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) Lilypond Chapter, Prince Anselem Njemanze said the refusal of some agencies to comply with government directive that they must visit the port only when invited by Customs has been a major challenge faced by agents at the terminal.
He said not only do the agencies encroach on consignments, they also engage the services of camp boys who do not also understand the procedure of cargo clearance thus creating delay in release of consignments.
“At examination bay, you see over 20 people on one container, you don’t know who is who. Most of them domicile here everyday and encroach into jobs that do not concern them, coupled with the fact that most of them don’t even come to do their job, they flood themselves with camp boys. Government said that they should come on request but they have refused to come on request, every container that comes, they want to inspect,” he said.
Meanwhile Comptroller Isa has advised agents to always ensure that their import documentation is simple and devoid of ambiguity to avoid friction that could cause delay in the clearance of their cargoes.
“One problem we have with regards to declarations is when declarations are ambiguous. When we will find out that the agent is neither here nor there, we feel that the declarant has something to hide but if it is simple and we see that the actual thing you are carrying is what you have declared, then we will not have cause to delay you,” Talatu who was represented by the command’s Deputy Controller Administration, John Osoemena said.
Talatu disclosed that the command generated N12.6 billion from January to July this year while it has so far collected N1.8 billion in August.
She attributed the impressive revenue collection to the cooperation of officers and the synergy between the command and its stakeholders even as she noted that the command recently received commendation of the customs headquarters for surpassing its target.
She said that the pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) scheme of the Nigeria Customs Service has worked efficiently at the command ,noting that problems experienced at its take-off have been addressed.