Freight forwarders join issues with service providers
… As World Bank confirms Customs preparedness to take over DI
A nascent body, the All Freight Forwarders Congress of Nigeria (AFFCON) has declared that only 16 out of the 22 mobile and fixed scanners installed by the three service providers under the destination inspection regime are functional.
In a letter sent by AFFCON to President Goodluck Jonathan over the weekend, the body said that scanning service has not been cost effective, while noting that its usage has remained lower than anticipated.
The petition, signed by Honourable Increase Uche and dated February 22, 2013, kicked against further extension of the contract of the destination inspection service providers including Web Fontaine.
The body said that its assessment revealed that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is prepared and ready to take over operation of scanning machines at the seaports, airports and border posts.
The body also advocated re-introduction of the suspended Cargo Tracking Note (CTN).
“Webb Fontaine and SGS contract should be terminated and all the Nigerian staff should be absorbed by the Nigeria Customs Service.
“Global Scan as an indigenous service provider and Cotecna should approach Nigeria Customs Service to handle external service of cargo tracking for the purposes of security concern of Nigeria-bound import”, Uche stated in the letter to the President.
He described as unfortunate a situation where the destination inspection service providers, with a combined staff strength of not more than 500 rake in about N47 billion annually, while the NCS, with staff strength of about 19,000, has only N30 billion with which to administer the core function of the Service and its personnel.
Uche claimed that AFFCON and the Freight Forwarders Congress Forum is the voluntary coming together of members of the registered freight and licensed Customs agents associations duly accredited by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The associations, according to him, include the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents.
But in a swift reaction, ANLCA has dissociated itself from AFFCON and the Freight Forwarders Congress Forum.
National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILYthat his association is not a part of AFFCON.
“I wish to categorically say on our behalf that ANLCA has no hand in this exercise. We were not informed and we have never been part of the group that put up this letter to the President. ANLCA disclaim in totality the contents of the letter. Further steps will be taken to seek redress on this,” Shittu said.
Registrar of the CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe, also said that the Council has knowledge of AFFCON.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the NCS expectedly taking over the destination inspection scheme at the end of the contract extension given to the service providers by June this year, the World Bank has confirmed the preparedness of the Service to fully take over the scheme.
The World Bank Lead E- Government Specialist, Ramesh Siva, made the observation yesterday when he led members of his team to the Apapa Customs Area 1 command.
After a closed door meeting held at the Conference room of the command, Siva told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that assessment of the facilities of the Service in all commands visited since it began its tour last Thursday indicates that they are ready to take over the scheme.
He observed that, of the over 150 countries visited by the World Bank team, the NCS has shown that it has high professional and dedicated officers to confront whatever challenges that may arise when they fully take charge of operating Nigeria’s destination inspection scheme.
“We are here to assess Customs ability to take over the destination Inspection concessions. Although they seem prepared, we are to help them identify whatever gaps they need to fill and come up with the transition plan,” Siva said.
He added: “The Nigeria Customs Service has a caliber of professionals and dedicated officers. I think they stand out quite well among officers in other countries.”
Customs National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Wale Adeniyi, said that officers at the end of the meeting will benefit from the wealth of experience of the delegation.
“At the end of the meeting, we expect that they will provide us with guidance in some of the operations we carry out using best practices obtainable in other parts of the world in line with the guidelines of the World Customs Organization (WCO),” he said.
So far, the team has visited the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Seme Border and the Port and Terminal Multi Service Limited (PTML) area commands.
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