·Nigeria losing over N800bn monthly to lack of 24hrs port operation —Shippers
The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of masterminding the failure of the 24 hours’ port operation as mandated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
This is even as the Nigeria seaports are said to be losing about N800 billion monthly revenue to lack of competitiveness in the West, Central African sub-region, due to inability to embrace 24-hour port operations.
Recall that despite the Federal Government order on 24-hour port operations in all Nigerian seaports four years ago, the order has yet to be implemented by relevant government agencies.
Maritime stakeholders at several at several fora have lamented that Nigeria is the only country whose ports do not operate 24 hours.
Recall also that the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority; Hadiza Bala Usman, had accused some federal government agencies operating at the ports of disobeying the directive and executive order signed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on 24-hour port operations and synergy among such agencies.
Corroborating the NPA MD, the National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto in a recent chat with our correspondent, alleged that the 24 hours’ port operation directive was thwarted by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and some other agencies at the port.
He added that after NPA rolled out a road map on how the 24 hours’ port operation will work, officials of NCS arrested NPA officials who asked them to do the right thing, he also alleged that men of NCS could not work round the clock and as a result there was loopholes in achieving the 24 hours’ port operation.
According to him, “when the executive order was rolled out, NPA was magnanimous to bring all the stakeholders together for what is called a road map for the executive order and we had an agreement to make sure that this executive orders works, but unfortunately after coming out with a road map, the problem became, how it is going to be implemented and the first culprit was Customs”.
“I remember the NCS arresting NPA officials that told them they needed to dismantle all the exit gate at Tin Can, so I am in total support of what the NPA MD said, it’s just that it is belated because the executive order has been in place for the past three years “
“NPA asides the fact that they are the landlord, also ensured that a lot of procedures were broken down into a less cumbersome one and NPA complied and that was the era we started the electronic shipping manifest, even though it was a beautiful and lofty idea it was killed by security agencies or government agencies, it’s very unfortunate”, he alleged further.
“Officials of NCS don’t work round the clock, because in that road Map, we said in view of the fact that NPA will be running 24 hours’ service non-stop, Customs should begin to run shift, so that it will not be a situation where an officer will say I am tired, but unfortunately it was not implemented”.
On his part, the President Shippers Association of Lagos (SAL), Rev. Jonathan Nicole stated that due to the lack of 24 hours port operations, the country is losing close to N800 billion monthly, while condemning the presence of several agencies at the ports for the failure of the 24 hours operations.
“In modern climes, you don’t even see any of the MDA’s in the ports, it is the Ministry of transportation because they are in charge of the ports and they supervise effectively through NPA and if NPA as the managers of the ports says the MDAs are not complying to the 24 hours cargo clearance procedure, she is right, because we have more agencies in the port than we have more people coming to the marriage registry and what are they looking for?
“They are not supposed to be in the ports, the ports belong to NPA, NCS and the Shippers the owners of the cargoes, because Customs will always call for the owners of the cargoes in case there is a dispute in declaration. So the owner goes back to the port or his agents and some are even calling that SON should return to the ports, what is it that they forgot? They want to go back to make money; that’s just the reason”.
“We are paying the shipping companies, we are paying the terminals operators, the Customs and we are paying all the MDAs in the port daily and we are paying the transporters daily, by the time you sum up, if you are bringing out 1000 containers if you add the customs duties, shipping and terminal charges; if you add transportation and you add under the table transactions a day, we should be looking at N12 billion naira per day but we operate in an abnormal situation in this country, when you put policies that are not workable people will want to trash it”, he said.