The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to undergo a strategic shift in its approach to barging, aiming to transform it into a regulatory function rather than a revenue-centric one.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, who heads the Tincan Island Command of the NCS, stated this during the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) Conference held in Lagos on Friday.
Nnadi stressed the importance of collaboration with the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy to implement this transformation.
He noted that the primary objective behind this initiative is to alleviate traffic congestion on roads by utilizing barging for cargo evacuation.
Nnadi also addressed concerns within the port, emphasizing the need for selflessness among stakeholders in the maritime industry. He urged them to communicate truthfully with the government to formulate effective policies.
On cargo integrity Nnadi bemoaned the inconsistencies in export documents, problems of concealment, undervaluation, and challenges related to scanning—a global trend for trade facilitation.
“Cargo integrity is very important, there are inconsistencies in export document, issues of concealment, undervaluation, issue of scanning which is a global trend for trade facilitation.
“90 per cent of stakeholders do not want to use scanners because cargo integrity is compromised and this results to delay.
“For terminal operators, they have issue with equipment but with good planning this can be achieved.
“For cargoes that are homogenous, if some are examined without infractions, others can be released,” he said.
Nnadi said the command had instituted weekend work to ease cargo evacuation.
He, however, lamented that both customs officials and stakeholders do come to work late.
He said that to ensure 24 hours’ work operate, there should be an enabling environment in form of security and lightening and this should be provided by the Nigerian Ports Authority.
He urged shipping companies to stop the re-routing of containers to designations not meant for it as this causes delay in trade.
He noted that many stakeholders are hesitant to use scanners due to compromised cargo integrity, resulting in delays.
In addition, Nnadi called on shipping companies to refrain from rerouting containers to unintended destinations, as this practice contributes to trade delays. He highlighted the importance of good planning to address issues faced by terminal operators.
Earlier, Comptroller General of Customs, Mr Adewale Adeniyi, said the service would set in motion machinery that would be used to solve issues facing trade facilitation.
Adeniyi said the forum should be a regular thing to help customs brainstorm with stakeholders for enhanced growth and development.
“We exist as an organisation because of our stakeholders and the strategic importance of Lagos, because if Lagos sneezes, others will catch cold.
“So, as equal partners, we should come around often and talk around those things that will make our relationship better.
“I have been abreast of the number of places where the shoe pinches you, the list given to me may not be exhausted today, but we will dwell on most of them,” he said.