Some clearing agents operating at the nation’s seaports have expressed concern over delays in the issuance of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) by the Nigeria Customs Service.
A number of the agents who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY said it now takes up to two weeks to get PAAR as a result of bottlenecks created by the customs officers.
It would be recalled that the Comptroller General of Customs, Abdulahi Inde Dikko, at a town hall meeting with importers where he flagged off the implementation of the PAAR scheme and launched the Nigeria Trade Hub at the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, had announced that the first PAAR was issued in just 58 minutes.
One of the agents who identified himself as Oliver Oke said presently, the issuance of PAAR by customs is not properly coordinated.
‘The PAAR is not coming out as expected unlike before when the service providers were issuing RAR. At least within five working days your RAR will be out but now it is taking two weeks for PAAR to be issued. I know they will later brace up but now there are a lot of problems at hand,” he said.
He advised the customs management to harmonize its system if it must achieve its vision of clearing goods at the ports in less than six hours.
The agents also accused officers of the Tin Can Island Ports Command of taking undue advantage of the provisional release granted by the customs management to importers and agents who are yet to clear their consignments before the takeoff of PAAR.
It was alleged that some officers of the command at each point of the documentation process demand for between N5,000 and N20,000 to process application already submitted by agents.
“I was at Tin Can myself yesterday. It was as they reported the situation. The fact is those officers collect up to N5,000 to N20,000 to search for submitted letters and to input it into the system,” another agent who simply identified himself as Lucky said.
Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office yesterday, Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Charles Edike however debunked the claim noting that delays encountered in the issuance of PAAR were not caused by customs operatives as it is not the responsibility of customs to transfer agents’ documentation to the PAAR portal.
“Customs does not transfer the papers to the PAAR portal and the banks will not transfer to us until they are sure that the documentations are correct. The agents should first of all confirm that the banks have actually finished their own part and transferred it to customs portal before complaining. If the banks are not satisfied that the agent or importer has done the right thing, they won’t transfer to customs,” he said.
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