The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has advised importers and their agents to make use of the trade hub portal developed by the Service.
Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command of NCS, Comptroller Charles Edike, who addressed stakeholders at a validation meeting on Corruption Risks Assessment (CRA) organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said that the trade hub portal was developed to enable importers access information on import guidelines and processes without making direct contact with officials of government agencies.
He said one of the factors identified for corrupt practices at the nation’s seaports is human contacts which according to him will reduce if the portal, which creates a single window system, is wholly embraced.
“The single window system is reducing man to man contact. The system tells you whether you need to see NAFDAC, SON or if the items are prohibited so all man to man interactions are reduced. From that single portal you can access documents. Therefore an agents does not need to see any officer to process his clearance. These are methods that the Nigeria Customs Service has put in place to reduce human contact; meaning that if you are transparent, you can carry your goods at the port without talking to a Customs officer except when you go to the Customs Processing Centre (CPC) for documentary checks. Thereafter you will go to the terminal operator and take your consignment”, Edike explained.
The Customs boss said that to simplify the clearance process, more goods now go through scanning at the port, adding that due to low level of compliance by agents in the past, more consignments were channeled to physical examination.
“Before now because of matters of compliance, we had more of physical examination of cargoes. About 90 percent of cargoes were physically examined and also for the need to encourage trade because the risk assessment system was a little bit relax. But now we have 60 percent going in for scanning while 40 percent is divided between the green channel and also the blue channel”, he said.
On allegations that operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) still intercept containers that have been duly released at the port by Customs officers, Edike said that with the directive of the Comptroller General of Customs that officers should not operate on the road, there is no justification for FOU operativrs’ presence on the road.
He however stated that for reasons of quality control. Customs officers attached to the unit can stop containers based on intelligence report.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.