The Ogun State Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have achieved an outstanding feat in streamlining the period for clearing cargoes through the Idiroko Border Post, keeping this under an hour.
This is a great improvement on the previous time-frame of about one week it took to complete the process of taking imports out of the Command, which links Nigeria with Benin Republic, on to other West African countries, and further afield.
Checks at the Command revealed that most consignments, especially vehicles, bearing correct declarations through self-assessment by importers or agents for payment of import duties, are promptly processed by the Customs personnel through the Automated System for Customs Data Plus-Plus (ASYCUDA++).
It was gathered that, once a particular cargo has been valued, scanned and the correct import duties recorded as having been paid on the consignment, while no discrepancies are detected during the examination process, the cargo is then immediately released to the consignee or the agent.
The Managing Director of Azeez Clearing and Forwarding Agencies, Mr. Azeez Owodunni, who is also a major importer, confirmed that vehicles can now be cleared through the Idiroko Border Post in one hour, once the declarations for the payment of import duties are properly done and the cargo does have issues about concealment and the like.
Corroborating this, other agents, who patronise the border post, disclosed that, unlike in the when it took days to clear goods through the Idiroko Border Post, the clearing process can now be commenced and completed within one hour, depending on the sincerity of the agent or importer at paying the right import duties on their cargoes.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Ogun State Command, Comptroller Ade Dosunmu, explained that the effective use of ASYCUDA++ and the cargo scanning machine facilitated the improvements recorded in goods clearance at the Command.
Idiroko Border Post, according to Dosunmu, is the only one out of similar outposts in Nigeria currently, where you can make your correct self-assessment and have your documents processed, for the clearing of your goods within an hour.
The CAC posited that the encouragement given the personnel by the Command since his assumption of office as the CAC served as an impetus for them to be more committed and effective in doing their jobs, justifying the increases in their salaries and improvements in their welfare, as well as other incentives, by the Comptroller- General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi.
Dosunmu said the fact that he has keyed into the seven- point agenda of the Customs chief has made it possible for him to ensure that the Command’s operations were carried out at a faster pace, so as to encourage more importers to use the border post and thus increase the revenue accruing to the Federal Government from imports.
The CAC assured that, once an agent or importer does the self assessment correctly at the Idiroko Data Trade Input (DTI), with a view to paying the right import duty on the cargo, there would be no basis for any delay on the part of the Command in ensuring that the consignment is promptly cleared.
He pointed out that, inasmuch as the Customs personnel have the requisite up-to-date training and are more committed to their work, while new strategy to enhance clearing of goods has been introduced, goods would certainly be cleared within an hour at the Command.
Dosunmu disclosed that, since officers have been warned against undue delays in attending to documents, while bottlenecks militating against speedy clearance of cargoes have also been eliminated, the Command is already working towards completing the clearing process in less than an hour.
He commended the Customs chief for the improvements recorded by the Command in its operations, noting that the provision of adequate logistics by the Customs Headquarters facilitated these, even as he appealed that the Area needed more encouragement to enhance its performance.