Congestion Hits Seme Border As Customs Shuts Idiroko Border Against Transit Cargoes
The Benin Republic Customs has said that all transit cargoes would no longer be routed through Nigeria’s Idiroko Owode borders, saying that all transhipment cargoes would now be routed through the ECOWAS Joint Border Post at Seme border.
Findings by our correspondent showed that this has led to a terrible cargo congestion at the border.
Public Relations Officer of Idiroko Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Maiwada confirmed the development to our correspondent.
Maiwada said the Nigeria customs is now acting on the arrangement based on directives of the Benin Republic Customs Service.
Our correspondent recalls that the Nigeria Customs Service had also recently shut down Atlas Park, a designated site for offloading of transhipment cargoes operated by the Benin Republic Customs.
The Customs Area Controller of Seme Command of Nigeria Customs, Comptroller Muhammed Uba Garba ordered the closure of the park, saying that it was being operated illegally as it is against laws of the World Customs Organization (WCO)
Subsequently, the Nigeria Customs Service recently commissioned a new trailer park at the Nigerian side of the border where all cargoes are now to inspected.
Public Relations Officer of Seme Command of Customs, Nuru Abdullahi also confirmed the new Benin republic transit policy to our correspondent, saying that all transit goods are now passing through the Joint Border Post.
Meanwhile the West African Road Transport Union (WARTU) has lamented an ever busy traffic along the Seme borders due to high presence of trailers occasioned by the recent closure of Idiroko-Owode borders against some cargo imports.
Mr. Umukoro Peter, Coordinator of the Same Border chapter of WARTU told newsmen last week that since the closure of the Atlas Park at the Republic of Benin side of the border recently and the subsequent opening of a new park on the Nigerian side, there has been slow clearance and movement of cargoes.
Umukoro also lamented that in carrying out trans border trade, some officials of government at the Seme border were frustrating the transporters by demanding bribes.
According to him, the West African Road Transport Union is a combination of all the road transport union in West Africa to ensure easy trade facilitation along the corridors and to see to the affairs of the drivers and the conductors along the corridor.
Speaking, he said “Now, movement of cargo is not as fast as we expected, just because the transit park that was organised initially is not big enough to contain the shipment that are coming into the country right now”
“There is blockade of goods coming through Idiroko Border and Owode Border, all the cargoes are now passing through seme border, right now things are slow but they are still arranging a transit park mightier than what we have presently”
“We commend the controller of seme border of Customs, he is putting all his effort to ensure he achieved the park. This is what is causing the hold up at the border”
Speaking on the alleged extortion of transporters by government agencies at the border, he said the officers describes the illegal collection as “officer on duty”
“We have the challenges of extortion of money along the corridor, we as WARTU have taken it upon ourselves to see how to manage it, the law enforcement agents call it ‘officer on duty'”
The WARTU Coordinator also alleged that trucks bearing foreign plate numbers are usually being extorted. He said that usually, such trucks are covered by the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and should be allowed free passage.
He said law enforcement agents should be called to order, and that they should embrace collaboration.
He said that bad roads, especially in Nigeria are major challenges facing the union.
He said “Between mile 2 Badagry and see are death traps, and the roads were constructed at the same time with those at the Republic of Benin”
“The roads are bad because our government do not take our facilities seriously, in those days we had federal ministry of works, but today we don’t have that again, everybody is just on their own”
“ECOWAS is trying their best, there is work going on that road but it is not as fast as expected, the rain season is here again and it would slow down the job, we still need more fuss to make the job faster, though ECOWAS are on it” he said