Customs bans clearing of pharmaceuticals, old vehicles at Tin Can port

Hameed Ali
Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali

The Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has barred importers and agents from clearing pharmaceutical products and overage used vehicles imported through the Tin Can Island Port Complex, findings by SHIPS & PORTS has revealed.

Confirming the development, spokesman of the command, Uche Ejesieme, said the Customs headquarters recently issued a circular stopping the importation of pharmaceutical items through the port. He said the content of the circular has been brought to the attention of relevant stakeholders.

“Yes, it is true. A circular has been passed stating that pharmaceuticals would not be allowed at Tin Can Island Port. It is an extant law that is still standing till today. The law stated that Apapa port and the international airport are the only places where pharmaceuticals can be allowed to come.

“Regarding overage vehicles, the Comptroller’s stand has been made known to the clearing agents. No overage vehicles would be allowed at the port,” Ejesieme said.

However, freight forwarders at the port have kicked against the ban, describing it as “sudden”.

Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, the National Secretary of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, (AREFFN), Frank Obiezekie said the ban was being implemented by the new comptroller of the command, Olakunle Oloyede, without ample notice to freight forwarders.

He said the action could lead to another round of protest by freight forwarders. Recall that freight forwarders last month embarked on a prolonged protest against the implementation of a new valuation system for imported vehicles based on the vehicle identity number (VIN). They suspended the protest after the Customs management suspended the implementation of the controversial policy for one month.

“It came to our notice recently that the new command controller gave a directive that old vehicles and pharmaceuticals would not be accepted at Tin Can Island port henceforth.

“When asked why the sudden policy, he said it is a policy that ought to have been implemented by previous controllers but because of unidentified reasons, they left it unimplemented.

“No one is against that implementation but what we are clamoring for is that they should let agents clear their already imported pharmaceuticals and overage vehicles. And one of the reasons why we go for overage vehicles is because they are affordable. Any vehicle above 2014 upward attracts heavy duty.

“Predicated on this now and the VIN policy, there is side talk that there would be another strike action at the port.

“Customs is just too desperate about generating revenue. If care is not taken, the port would be locked down again,” he said.