Controller, Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Charles Edike has assured clearing agents operating at the command of better services and prompt clearance of their consignments if they are transparent in their dealings with customs.
Edike who met with the clearing agents at the customs facility inside Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa during one of his unscheduled visits to the port last Tuesday said his visit was aimed at addressing challenges faced by agents in the course of carrying out their operations at the ports and how officers can improve on their services.
He said “We are here to know how we are serving you and to improve on our services. We are paid to serve you and you are our mirror.”
The agents who turned out in their large numbers identified Customs Intelligent Unit (CIU) interference in cargo clearance, provisional release application and poor turnout of officers on weekend examination among several challenges they faced during operations saying that some officers at the terminal are constituting delay in the clearance process thereby making them incur more demurrage on their consignments.
One of the agents, Hyacinth Adunekwe said: “A customs officer will after conducting examination on a container release the container yet CIU officers at the gate will ask that the container be repositioned for examination which is not suppose to be. They will delay us and at the end of the day they will not find any suspicious item.”
“Another challenge we are experiencing is that once the provisional release is done, the officer will not like to release the documents to you even when you know that at the end of the day when the PAAR is out you will pay whatever will be the shortfall. The owner of the consignment is aware that if there is any shortcoming, he has to pay and the officer is expected to release the consignment to the owner waiting for the PAAR to come out but they won’t want to release it,” another agent who identified himself as Uju Oke toldSHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
Responding, the CAC who frowned at the development immediately ordered that any agent whose container is unduly delayed by CIU operatives forward a complaint in writing to his office and if the officer in question is found wanting, he will be duly sanctioned.
He also directed that forthwith every terminal head or a representative of a unit be present for weekend examination.
While advising the agents to always give honest declaration and be transparent in their customs documentation to avoid unnecessary delay and incurring demurrage, Edike ordered that upon application for provisional release, once an item is within the acceptable value range, the consignment should be released but when discrepancies are noted when PAAR is rolled out, the agent will be held liable for the additional duty payment.
Edike who had earlier addressed the officers charged them to be fully committed to their duties. He specifically demanded that the officers ensure that proper examination is conducted on containers routed for physical examination.
He admonished the officers to ensure that items declared are well accounted for and where concealment is discovered, appropriate duty be collected.