Maritime expert and a top notch cargo surveyor; Mr. Femi Awogbade, has called for the return of pre-shipment inspection of goods imported into the country.
Speaking at a forum in Lagos recently, Awogbade said a major factor constituting delay in exiting of cargoes at the nation’s port was what he described as ‘local examination’ of the imported cargoes at the port.
He said when cargoes are pre-inspected at the country of origin, whereby inspectors take responsibility of sealing the containers, the time spent in examining the cargo would reduce and it would minimize the risk of smuggling of arms and ammunition or hazardous goods into the port of destination.
“We need to go back to pre-shipment inspection of our goods. And the only thing we need to add from what we use to do before was to get the inspectors liable and responsible for the content of the container or the ships they had inspected, and that is what had been lacking.
The only thing that needs to be done to ensure that inspectors take responsibility and liability, is to have them seal the containers and seal the hatch cover of the ship,” he said.
“When you seal with your own seal, it means you are confirming that you are fully aware of the entire content of that container and if it arrives somewhere else and found to be different, there are internationals laws guiding all of these things.
“The laws hold you liable and the issue of worrying about arms coming in will immediately die off because people will be very careful to do that,” he stated.
Awogbade who is also the Chief Executive officer, Intrass Limited, also noted that the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) regime currently being handled by the Nigeria Customs Service has not achieved the desired result, but had rather added to the time of goods clearance from the ports.
He said, “Even by the name PAAR, it is not serving that purpose that you are supposed to have virtually concluded all documentation of your clearing even before the goods arrive so that as soon as your goods arrive you will just take delivery, but that is not working.”
He advised that PAAR should only be used to ascertain the value and HS code of imported goods.