Amidst allegations that licensed customs agents have once again resorted to the habit of not coming forward to take delivery of their consignments, a frontline member of the shipping community, Mr Val Usifoh has called for action against any licensed customs agent who constitutes inhibition to free flow of cargo.
Mr Usifoh whom is the chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) told Shipping Position Weekly that most of the problems that are associated with cargo clearance are fall outs of the level of literacy on the part of the freight forwarders.
According to him, majority of them are not computer literate enough to cue in to the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) facilities which have been designed to quicken the process of cargo clearance in the ports.
“Until the clearing agents hook up with the ASYCUDA like the shipping companies and banks, cargo delivery process will still be very slow, inn fact I strongly recommend that renewal of licenses of clearing agents should be tied to knowledge of the operations of the DTI facilities and the Customs ASYCUDA”, he submitted.
He accused the agents of slowing down the cargo clearance and delivery process by deliberately not coming forward to take delivery of their cargoes, even as he raised alarm that the way cargoes are piling up at the ports, congestion may come up again around August this year.
This coincided with the discovery over the weekend that scores of ships have already started to queue for berthing space in Lagos ports and that another round of congestion may be on the way sooner than predicted.
Records of the daily berthing meetings which were released to Shipping Position Weekly indicate that at least 15 ships loaded with assorted commodities have arrived and are awaiting berthing at the Lagos port complex.
At least 10 of the ships are billed for ENL Terminal in Apapa port, while Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited, Tin Can Island Container Terminal and Five Star Logistics Terminal are expected to play host to four out of the remaining five ships. The ships that are expected to berth at ENL are laden with essential commodities like: fish, rice and cement
Similarly about 80 ships laden with sundry consignments such as: bulk cement, bulk sugar, containerised consignments, general cargo, vehicles, bulk wheat and fish, are billed for Lagos ports. Others are: bulk salt, steel products and petroleum products.
Mr Usifoh who is also the chairman, Port Industry Anti – Corruption Standing Committee advised that all efforts must be put inn place to ensure that cargo dwell is brought down from the present 30 or more days. If it continues, of course what will happen is congestion again.
“If clearing agents embrace e -clearing and key-in to the Customs ASYCUDA, the cargo waiting time will reduce, I strongly recommend that renewal of their license should be tied to this”, he stressed.