Customs impounds ship over illegal operation

Operaives of the Eastern Marine Command, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have impounded an oil tanker, MT AFRICAN BEAUTY, for allegedly operating illegally in the nation’s waters.

The ship was impounded while operating at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) jetty in Warri, Delta State.

The Custom Area Controller, Eastern Marine Command, Comptroller Usman Kankara Bello, said that the vessel was found operating with expired Temporary Importation (TI) Permit at the time it was impounded.

He noted that it was illegal for any shipping company to allow its vessel to operate in Nigerian waters without a valid import permit, adding that the permit is given to ship owners by NCS to operate in Nigeria within a specific period of time.

According to him, the permit is given under bond granted by Nigerian banks and that upon expiration, the vessel is expected to return to its country of origin.

“However, a window period is given to the owners to allow it renew its document if it intends to continue operating within the nation’s water. In this case a fresh TI is issued for extension.

“But what we found out is that some vessel owners keep their operations running without recourse to the rules. In such instance, such vessel is viewed as operating illegally and we will no longer condone such act.

“In the case of MT AFRICAN BEAUTY, we discovered that there was no conscious effort by its management towards renewing the document. We therefore, impounded the vessel,” Bello said.

He also warned ship owners and tankers operating within Nigerian waters to comply with the extant laws and guidelines of the NCS.

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