For the Nigeria Customs Service, I look forward to a more civil customs saddled with the responsibility of trade facilitation and making the port friendlier. What we have now is more of a militarised customs that is coerced and full of intimidation.
I also look forward to seeing customs align with international best practice in terms of respecting the rules of law. For example, there is a law that before customs license is renewed, there should be a clearance from CRFFN but up till today, Customs does not respect that law. The Customs should also support the freight industry in terms training, capacity building and policy formulation. There should also be a regular interaction between them and the stakeholders in the industry.
I want to first commend the federal government for extending the 35 percent tariff increase on used vehicles to April. Whatever policy government wants to come up with, I do believe we can make impact. We have always talked about the traffic gridlock in Apapa, and I kept asking what happened to the Corporate Social Responsibility of private companies there because I know the government alone cannot do it. For 2015, I expect the Nigerian Shippers Council to ensure that once a container is moved out of a shipping company, importers should not be charged for demurrage until it is returned to the shipping company. The truth of the matter is as far as I am concern the shipping companies are benefitting from the gridlock otherwise they would have made effort towards solving the gridlock.
In terms of operation, I expect the agencies including customs and others to be more efficient in their service delivery this year. The chaotic traffic gridlock around the port should be improved upon and more importantly the ISPS code should be on the front burner this year especially as it relates to our compliance status in the eye of the international community. Also the policy of government trying to add another 35 percent on used vehicles I think should be jettisoned though they have extended it to April otherwise it will cripple the maritime industry if implemented. Mere announcing it has already caused a ripple effect because most of the importers are no longer willing to send anything to the country. So I think government should jettison the policy.
Although people are apprehensive about the forthcoming election, I believe that this year will be a great one for the maritime sector. There is going to be more efficiency in trade facilitation if Customs improves more on PAAR. Although we are having alerts, it is being treated with caution now. I also expect that more containers will be stemmed to bonded terminals this year so that the pressure on the port access roads will be reduced. We are also looking forward to have a call up system whereby before you come to load your consignment at the port, you will be called not just to come and queue on the access road.
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