...Charges Freight Forwarders on Compliance
The Nigeria Customs Service has began test running of its new automation system of cargo clearance known as; Nigerian Customs Integrated System (NICIS) 2 at seaports in Lagos.
Controller of Apapa Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Musa Jibrin stated this yesterday when the National and Chapter Executives of the International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) paid a working visit to the command.
The IFFA delegation was led by its National President, Dr. Sam Chidinma Onyemelikwe.
Speaking at the meeting, Compt Jibrin stated that the pilot scheme of the NICIS 2 has already been kick-started at the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal in Lagos and that it has simplified the process of cargo delivery at the port.
According to him, customs has migrated from NICIS 1 where only five declarations could be made in one hour to a more advanced NICIS 2 where agents can now make 18 declarations within an hour.
Jibrin assured that the pilot scheme would soon move from KLT terminal to Tin Can Port and that by November 2017, the pilot scheme would be rounded off at the Apapa Command.
According to him, when the process is completed, customs operations would be automated and there would be speedy clearance of consignment, there would be improvement and compliance to regulation of government fiscal and monetary policy, adding that this would also lead to increased revenue generation.
The Customs boss however charged the visiting IFFA members on the need to improve on their level of compliance to customs regulations, discipline, self respect and patriotism in order to move the industry forward.
"The business of freight forwarding has rules and customs have laws that must be complied with by anyone coming into Nigeria to operate. They should be ready to obey the rules and regulations governing operations in the blue economy"
"All we need to do is to inject little discipline in our national life, once we are compliant and alive to our responsibilities, then you would find out that everything would go seamless, easy and faster"
"On our part, we have made several attempts and efforts to make sure we better the system, we have done this by going away from the analogue way of doing things. Analogue is the one that slow systems down and allow people to carry documents around"
"In 1995 when we started ASYCUDA, we have grew from 2.3, 2.7 and ASYCUDDA++, now we are almost there. We have developed our NICIS 1 and right now, NICIS 2 is being launched and piloted in some of our commands, as I am talking to you now, we are set to launch the NICIS 2"
"NCIS 2 is already being piloted at KLT terminal, the stakeholders were trained in our training room here in Apapa for two weeks, and we are a living testimonies of the achievements of the training, those who were trained gave a testimony that in the past, 5 declarations were made under ASYCUDA in one hour, but under NCIS 2 they were able to do 18 within an hour, most of the challenges we recorded during ASYCUDA have been eliminated"
“For vehicles, all we need are the chassis number, the bill laden number, everything is automatically downloaded into your declarations, so it takes very little time to make declarations under NICIS 2"
"There are lots of challenges encountered by agents during seeking clearance and release from other control agencies like NAFDAC, SON, NDLEA and so on. In NCIS 2 they have been activated, in NCIS 1, they only view what is going on but they cannot communicate, under NICIS 2 they have the power to communicate and they can release without agents following them to their various offices"
"The pilot scheme is taking about just a month in KLT, from there it would go to Tin Can, Apapa command would be used to round off the piloting exercise in November, we assure you that before the year runs out, NCIS 2 would be fully operational" he said
Speaking earlier, National President of IFFA, Dr. Sam Onyemelukwe highlighted operational challenges that freight forwarders are confronted with in the cargo clearance process.
He said that the Pre-Arrival Assessment (PAAR) regime of the customs has not functioned effectively as the PAAR issuance is always delayed, thereby leading to huge losses for importers. He added that the PAAR issued by customs is mared by extortions, system alerts, discrepancies, wrong valuation among others.
Onyemelukwe noted that the distrust in the operations of the customs has led to a regrettable situation whereby various units of the service operate at cross purposes to the detriment of importers.
He urged the customs to have a collaborative relationship with IFFA in other to address some of the challenges he highlighted.
"For operations harmony and optimum productivity in cargo clearance, no other arm or unit of the customs should contest documents already processed and cleared at the seaport. CI U, National task force and FOU should stay out of the ports and stop interfering in the clearance process"
"Customs should also improve on their relationship with ou members when they bring in their jobs.”They should also have conducive places to stay while processing their jobs through the customs"
The IFFA President took the opportunity to introduce to the Controller, the new executives of Apapa Chapter of IFFA headed by Chief Osita Patrick Chukwu.