• Custom says it’s not responsible for export containers trapped in Apapa
The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has raised an alarm saying that the agency is being excluded from cargo examination process at the Apapa port, warning that many export cargoes now bypass inspection even as they are destined for foreign countries.
Coordinator of the Apapa command of NAQS, Dr Steven Ekoro stated this when he led senior officers of the service on a courtesy visit to the Customs Area Controller of Apapa command of Nigeria Customs Service, Compt Abubakar Bashir in Lagos last week.
Ekoro pleaded with the Customs boss to ensure that Quarantine officers are allowed to be part of the signing of examination forms by government agencies in the port after cargo inspection.
He lamented that three bonded terminals under Apapa Customs; Max Global, AML and Ecant Bonded Terminals do not allow Quarantine officers access into their terminal to inspect the numerous agric produce therein.
Dr. Ekoro briefed Compt Bashir on the danger and implication of export cargoes passing through the port without proper inspection; he said this would further lead to an international embarrassment to Nigeria.
He recalled that in 2015, Nigeria was delisted from exporting some major agricultural products to European Union (EU) countries, specifically the United Kingdom where a blanket ban was placed on Nigerian beans.
Ekoro said: "We are expecting that the ban would be lifted next year 2019, and we are working assiduously to make sure that any product that leaves the shore of Nigeria is well -certified, it is acceptable and of international standard"
"Here in Apapa command, we want to plead with the management of customs, most of the products that cross the main gate for export, we give them phytosanitary certificate, but we still have some Judas among them that bypass the Quarantine service"
"Our prayers is that NAQS should be allowed to sign the examination form that the Customs usually sign so that we can use that opportunity to advise the prospective exporters to go to our headquarters and follow the procedure of certifying their products and allow our men to carry out inspection"
"We have posted some of our staff to these three bonded terminals; Max Global, AML and Ecant Bonded Terminal, we want you to write the management of these bonded terminals. In order areas, our staff are working fine with them, but these terminals I have mentioned, the management of these terminals are not corporative, they don't allow our staff to work there and in these terminals we have a lot of Agricultural produce being brought into these areas, and by preventing us from carrying out mandate, it is dangerous" he warned.
Responding, the Customs boss, Compt Bashir reiterated the existing relationship between the Customs and other sister agencies, advising that Quarantine service should take steps to key into the customs Single Window platform in order to receive automatically the list of declarations made in Apapa port daily.
The Controller informed his visitors that currently there are more than 2,000 export containers being detained at the Apapa port for lack of proper documentation for export.
"Right now, we have more than 2,000 containers in the port that are not going anywhere, we have held meetings with the shipping companies and terminal operators, this is because these cargoes have not satisfied the mandatory requirements. We have issued express instructions to terminals that they must not load any export cargoes except the customs say so", he declared.
The customs boss said that the service was not responsible for the delay of the 2000 containers, but that it was a service provider company; Clean Certification of Inspection (CCI) that has refused to let the containers go.
He observed that the service provider that is licensed by Customs is gradually encroaching on the job of the Customs and other agencies, through its compulsory issuance of final certificate before cargoes are released for export.
"A private company have been engaged by government to peruse all export documents and finally issue you the CCI, but on the importation aspect, we have sacked the service providers and insisted that inspection of cargoes should be done by us", he said