RARs TRANSFER: Customs CG hunts agents, service providers
… Promises dire consequences
These would be followed by severe sanctions, according to the Customs chief, who has promised to revoke the licences of Customs agents involved in the practice.
Abdullahi spoke during a tour of the GSSL facilities at the LPC, at the end of A Stakeholders Forum on ICT Application for Trade Facilitation, which held recently at the Conference Room, Apapa Area Command, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The Customs chief said that consignments linked to the transfer of RARs would also be seized.
Similarly, he assured that all other persons found to have been involved in facilitating such RARs would be duly sanctioned.
Notably, Abdullahi had stood his ground in issuing the orders, promptly dismissing the pleas of a certain leading Customs agent that the Customs boss lets the case of the transfer of RARs not be handled at the Customs Headquarters.
The Customs chief had also dismissed arguments by a number of leading Customs agents that the service providers had had no time to handover properly in the recent rejig of their respective operational areas by the Federal Government, therefore, the incidents of RARs transfer.
Abdullahi had swiftly countered these positions, positing in turn that directives from government must be promptly and strictly given effect to, as such, according to him, the transfer of RARs is an aberration in the system.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY notes that earlier in the day, in the course of the stakeholders forum, the Customs chief, in his remarks, severally and severely rebuked specific Customs agents and the practitioners generally in the country for being major causes of dislocations in the system.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY recalls that, in a move that jolted many industry stakeholders, the CDIL had lost its prime spot of the LPC to the GSSL.
This had followed the Federal Ministry of Finance informing the service providers, namely: CDIL, SGS and GSSL, that, while it would retain their services for another six months after the June 2013 expiration date, it would rejig the lots allocated to them.
In the rejig exercise, the GSSL took charge of the LPC, Seme Border Station, Lagos; Idiroko Border Station, Ogun State; and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
While the CDIL lost the LPC, it retained its charge over Tin-Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos; Banki Border Station in Kano State; and Jibya Border Station in Katsina State.
SGS, which was in charge of the scanners at Idiroko; and Port-Harcourt Airport, Port-Harcourt Port, and Onne Port, Rivers State, did not suffer too much loss under the new arrangement, as it is now in charge of Calabar Port, Cross River State; Onne Federal Lighter Terminal, Onne Federal Ocean Terminal; Port and Terminal Multi-service Limited (PTML) Terminal, Apapa, Lagos; Port-Harcourt Airport and Port-Harcourt Port.
While the Finance Ministry did not give reasons for rejigging the lots, opinions are rife that the exercise was in compliance with a “directive from above.”
Before the new six months extension, the initial seven-year contact, which elapsed on December 31, 2012, had been extended by six months to June 30, 2013.
One of the terms of the contract was provision, operation and maintenance of the hi-tec scanners used to scan goods at the seaports, airports and land border stations.
The service providers were also required to train Customs personnel in operating and maintaining the machines at their exit.