Can Automation Stop Corruption in the Cargo Clearance Process?

Mike Ossy (Vice Chairman, ANLCA Tin Can Chapter)

Automation cannot stop corruption totally, but it will reduce corruption, if the customs officers will allow the system to work, it will reduce corruption, with this new NICIIS 2, if it is well implemented, it will reduce corruption, it would guide us as clearing agents on what to charge as fees. Once you input the chassis number of your vehicle into the system, it would give you the right value you are going to pay, you might not have to interface with customs any longer. So I believe corruption in the cargo clearance would reduce if the interface with customs officers is reduced and we can have this through automation. When Dikko came with PAAR, he told us that it would be a final document, but later, the human factor crept in and customs started bringing in multiple alerts which do not allow trade to flow Mr. Abiodun Frank (IFFA)

Yes, it will reduce corruption, but customs do not want automation of the port to succeed because of bribe. Automation is the best way because it will stop so many human contacts. Whatever you are paying duty on your cargo would be appearing straight in Abuja, you won’t be able to forge your valuation papers. The NICIIS that customs is operating now works like PAAR, whatever value they give you, you have to go and pay that value. So it is for the best interest of the nation. Rev Jonathan Nicol (SALS)

What is creating corruption is because there is human contact. So anything that could reduce contact is good and then the Nigeria Customs Service should follow the rules of engagement. Because every vehicle for instance has year of depreciation whether it is brand new or not, after one year, it has a depreciation effect. So they should remove the year of depreciation before they could get the factory price. And follow the tariff strictly and of course people will be happy to do business in Nigeria. 


Stanley Ezenga (NAGAFF)

Automation will reduce corruption in cargo clearance in the ports drastically, because there is disparity in the issuance of variation in vehicles. What you get in Seme is different from what you get in PTML and Tin Can. But if it is automated that means the moment you slot in the VIN number of that vehicle it will automatically give you the value no matter where you slot it in whether in Kaduna or any other part of the country. I think it will go a long way to ensure uniform prices on vehicles being imported. At least for us as freight forwarders, once you ‘charge’ your client you know there will not be disparity in prices and valuation. Of course the NICIS 2 was kick started in KLT, that was the pilot command for the NICIS 2 and when they started they were having some issue which is where other places that the thing have been deployed to are facing at the moment. For us in KLT, I think we have perfected the system. So for those places where the thing is newly deployed they will have small issues but with time they will overcome.   Frank Ukor (AREFFN)

It will help a lot; at least all these manipulations and non-compliance will greatly reduce.  It is the same thing but this time we will be very sure that nobody will take any car out without payment of duty and nobody will go outside to get valuation duty because everything is online.  Charles Ubah (Licensed Customs Agent)

NICIIS cannot work; this is because it provides that whatever PAAR gives you after painstakingly going through your documents, once you scan it into the system according to the HS Code, there would not be alerts again. But now, the customs has gone to meet service providers to give them access to be alerting jobs, NICIIS does not allow anything called alert, you pay according to your value and you go. Right from the time of ASYCUDA, goods clearance has been automated, but the Nigerian factor has not allowed it to work, as far as Nigeria is concerned, it would take a long time before we can see customs seating in the office and allowing trade to flow. The intention of the government through the Ease of Doing Business policy is right, but human factor and the tendency to cut corners would not allow it work. Akanni Balogun (Licensed Customs Agent)

Automation is the best thing happening now in the maritime industry, especially as it concerns clearing of cargoes, it is a step that should have been taken years back, but our problem is the customs officers and their corrupt tendencies, an average customs officer comes to work every day without a dime, but they would want to go back home with millions of Naira, they are the ones sabotaging government automation policies. The major area of corruption inside the port is on used vehicles, the only solution is for the stakeholders to come together and challenge the customs authority to create a one stop shop. With this, after paying your value, nobody should ask you for a dime again, once we do this, we would overcome the challenge. Sunny Nnebe (Chairman, IFFA PTML Chapter)

If the importers can help us by declaring exactly what they have in their containers, it would reduce corruption, as long as human contact at the port is reduced, corruption would be reduced, once you declare what you have and it is scanned and found out to be true, there would be no need of you coming to the port to negotiate anything with customs. The system will just ‘release’ for you, but if there is any discrepancy, this is where the problem lies, because in an attempt to cover it up, an officer will ask you for a tip and this is where the corruption comes in. ASYCUDA and other automated platforms over the years could not address the issue of corruption because there are lapses and rooms for under-declaration, but with NICIIS2 now, there is no longer room for such, once you put in your chassis number, it would bring out the color and every other information about your vehicles or cargo.