By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the closure of all land borders across Nigeria by the Nigeria Customs Service against import and export of cargoes, the President of Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) Capt Tony Onaharigho has said that for the Nigerian seaports to take advantage of the closure, the federal government should reduce bureaucratic clearance processes at the port and dismantle multiple inspections by government agencies.
Capt Onaharigho in an exclusive interview with DAILY TREND NEWS yesterday applauded the decision of the government to shut down the nation’s borders, saying that Benin Republic was violating the provision of the ECOWAS chatter by importing goods from Europe and labeling them as made in Benin Republic.
He said “The only thing government needs to do now is that, with the closure of the border there would be much pressure on the ports now and cargoes coming in supposed to increase, so they should reduce the port charges, reduce the number of inspections going on inside the port because you can see a lot of agencies still going to the port for inspection”
“If you go to advanced countries, you would not see these kind of bureaucracy in inspection”
Onaharigho who is the Deputy Ship Registrar for Liberian Government also urged Nigerian federal government to at this time develop the Tin Can Island Port and Apapa Port, while also designating some ports as specific for certain cargo importation.
“If vehicles are going to Lagos, other commodities should go to Eastern Ports because most of the goods we export are from the middle belt and the South.Ports should be designated for export of products, importation of vehicles and others” he said
He said that local rice farmers in Nigeria are now reaping the dividends of the border closure as they are now getting a lot of money from rice production. He observed that soon, there would be competitive advantage on rice production, and that Nigeria would even export to neighboring countries with time.
According to the NIS boss “The decision to close the border was a very good decision in terms of the benefits that we would derive from the closure. The ECOWAS chatter allows for free trade within states, but it is on goods produced within ECOWAS countries and not goods imported from other countries”
“What Benin Republic was doing was that they import goods from foreign countries like India, Japan and they now import it to Nigeria.
Meanwhile the charter stipulates that the Customs of the exporting country should escort the goods to the border of the importing country and hand it over to the Customs officials, but the problem arising now is that the boundary countries just collect their own duties and allow people to smuggle into Nigeria”
“I had a discussion with the Liberian government about exporting goods from Nigeria to Liberia, you would find out that a sleepers that cost N120 in Nigeria cost about $300 in Liberia, it is a lot of profit for you exporting such to Liberia”
“If goods are properly imported into this country, the import duty of Customs would increase, there would also be a standard in production, unlike if you go to the borders where a lot of counterfeit goods are passing through. The port would pick up very soon” he said