The Deputy National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Ugochukwu Nnadi, has advised officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to minimize human contact in the process of cargo clearance through the promotion of paperless transaction.
Speaking at a forum in Lagos, Nnadi said that rather than embrace full automation of clearance procedures, some customs officers still prefer to have documents transferred from one office to the other, thereby contributing to delays in cargo clearance.
This, according to him, is mainly due to the fact that there is gross illiteracy among officers, who therefore lack the skills to operate computers, adding that rather than facilitate trade, some customs officers are more interested in making money for themselves.
“We are talking of paperless in the clearance process, but as I am talking to you now, customs still have so many tables and so many dispatch registers whereby documents have to move from one officer to another through registers. What are they dispatching? There shouldn’t be any need for this because everything could be sent online.
“There is gross illiteracy among the customs men. The last time the CG was at Apapa, I raised the issue and they acknowledge that it was one of their problems. Officers are more interested in the money that goes into their pocket than making sure that cargo is moved,” he said.
He said that when cargoes were not exited from the ports at the appropriate time, agents were always at the receiving end as they lose most of their profits.
He added that there was also need for the Federal Government to prune down the number of its agencies currently operating at the port to achieve prompt cargo clearance.