Clearing agents operating at the Apapa port have accused the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of lateness to examine cargoes.
At an industry event in Lagos last week, a representative of the Vice-president, Prof. Yemi Oshibajo from the Presidential Enabling Business Executive Council (PEBEC) , Mr John Oboh accused customs officers of not coming to office on time for examination of cargoes.
On joint physical examination of goods at the ports, he pointed out that the problem has been with information that some customs officers do not come to the office in time.
For instance, he said that “while examination is supposed to be around 12noon, the exercise does not start till between 1 and 2pm."
Confirming this, the Apapa chapter Chairman of the National Council of Managing Director of Liscenced Customs Agent (NCMDLCA), Emeka Enwelu, confirmed the lateness of Apapa Customs officer to examination bays.
According to him, examination of cargoes at Apapa has gone down from 300 containers per day to 200 containers due to the attitude to work by the officers.
He said, "Customs officers come for examination around 12pm- 1pm daily that is their actual time they use to come for examination and we have delineated on that issue so much time and for them to come early for examination to know what to be done and to get our cargoes out in good time but we spend a whole day on examination before we come the following day for release it is not trade facilitation but if they can meet up by 10am as advised by the government.
Enwelu further stated that because of the delay experienced, clearing agents find it difficult to examine and released goods on same day.
He said agents are forced to comeback the following day for release of their consignment thereby causing increase in storage charges.
"If Customs conduct examination and write the report, we can get our cargoes but when they start late, they find it difficult to write the report because it will be late and the whole day has already been wasted.
"If they start by 12, there is no way they can cover up because before they use to do 300 containers but now, they do less than 200 containers in a day because of the three hours delay experienced which is caused by customs examination officers."
Another clearing agent, Chijioke Ebuka however urged the federal government to ensure that customs adhere strictly to the implementation of the executive order.
He also stated that delay experienced at the examination bays, affect the number of cargoes to be released daily.
"The delay is part of the vision of PEBEC but the Apapa Customs officers are making the gains disappear. We want officers to come in good time so that goodss can be released same day after examination."
He alleged that customs had written to be exempted from executive order but he said customs cannot be bigger than the country.
"I learnt customs has written to be exempted from Executive order, but they can't be bigger than the law of the land because they are creation if the law," Chijioke concluded.
However, effort to get the Public Relation Officer of the command, Nkiru Nwala proved abortive as text message sent to her as at the time of this report were not replied.