Clearing agents raise alarm over fresh moves by sacked govt agencies to return to ports

Clearing agents operating at the Apapa port have raised alarm over fresh moves by sacked government agencies to return to the ports.

The federal government had in October 2011 reduced the number of agencies at the port from 14 to six as part of effort to address delays associated with cargo clearance.

The agents who spoke at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Apapa Area command of the Nigeria Customs Service yesterday accused not only the sacked agencies of attempt to return to the ports but also those present of not making themselves available when examination is being carried out by Customs officers at the specified time.

A representative of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Julie Ogboru stated that because the agencies are not usually on ground when examination is being conducted, they now request to conduct examination separately thereby causing delay and making cargo clearance more cumbersome.

She requested that the Area controller mandate the agencies that are not present at the examination period to sign the examination form and allow the container to exit the port.

She said, “The agencies have become a torn in our flesh. After examination, everybody should sign the examination paper at the point of examination and no agent should go back to their offices to give them paper to sign.

“It should be once because examination is done once so the examination paper should be signed and any agency that did not sign; the controller should allow the container to leave.

“This is one of the things that is causing problem between us and Customs because after examination, the officer will say go and sort it out which should not be so.

“If you are the chief security officer of the port, you should take the bull by the horn and put a stop to this.”

Responding, Controller of the command, Comptroller Willy Egbudin assured that he will meet with the concerned agencies and ensure that all are present when physical examination is being conducted.

Egbudin who met with the stakeholders for the first time since he took over at the command solicited for their cooperation to move the command forward.

He appealed to importers and clearing agents to always give honest and transparent declaration to facilitate the clearance of their goods.

He disclosed that the command collected N23.4billion as revenue for the month of January 2016.

Giving a breakdown of the revenue collected at the command in the past two years, Egbudin stated that in 2014 the command collected a total of N301 billion, while there was a decline in 2015 as only N288 billion was collected.

“We will pray that this year, we should be able exceed at least N300 billion to N400 billion or N500 billion and that is our expectation.

“So far, I don’t think we are doing badly even though we are not meeting the target because for the month of January this year we had been able to realise N23.4billion compared to January last year which was N20.7 billion. You know that we are starting well,” he said.

Egbudin however admitted that there has been a sharp drop in importation but added that with honest and transparent declaration, the revenue target of N1 trillion set for the NCS would be achieved.

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