By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has justified the continuous interception and examination of transit cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service, saying that the Kaduna Inland Dry Port (KIDP) and others are not yet approved as port of destination.
Hence, the Council says it would constitute a security risk for cargoes to be moved out of the port directly to Kaduna without checks by Customs at the port, no matter the owners of the cargo.
Speaking at a roundtable session with the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos yesterday, Chairman of Research and International Liaison of CRFFN, Mr. Increase Uche however lamented that the process of examining transit cargoes at the port have been tedious, due to lack of scanning machines.
Increase who is also the National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) observed that Inland Container Depots (ICD) in Nigeria are not being patronized, despite the fact that they were established to reduce the pressure on port terminals.
Speaking, he said “Today, there is no ICD that has been approved as a destination port, Kaduna Dry Port is yet to have the approval of FIATA which is the umbrella of freight forwarding globally and the IMO, but we are still working on it, I am part of the committee that is following it up under the Nigerian Shippers Council and advising on what should be done”
“We are yet to carry our the relevant moves that would enable them identify Kaduna ICD as a destination port”
“Now, any cargo meant for the ICD that lands at our port, ordinarily cargoes landed from the vessels needs to undergo pre-scanning, if cargo is landed globally, the risk management study of that cargo is done offshore, you must have known the content of that container before it lands at your port, but that is not being done here, and some of these cargoes meant for the ICD are on transit”
“So, if Customs require to look at these cargo, knowing fully well that it is being transited on the request of the importer, then the best thing they should have done is have scanners in place, they don’t need to examine the cargoes on 100% physical examination, what is going on now is causing delay and it shouldn’t be, looking at the state of our ports and the congestion”
“But for security reasons, the check should be carried out because the container is moving under tranzire to an ICD outside Lagos”
Increase Uche while giving stewardship of his committee’s achievements on the CRFFN told journalists that the Council is making efforts to introduce Customs Brokerage in Nigeria, saying that this would help sanitize the freight forwarding sector.
According to him, members of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who have been identifying themselves as Customs Brokers are only impersonating as the term is not yet known by law.
He also said that the licensing regulations of the Nigeria Customs is the major bane of freight forwarding practice in Nigeria.
Speaking, he said “My committee have gone round the whole port in Nigeria including private jetties, bonded terminals and ICD ‘s in Kaduna and Kano and made enquiries on some other ICD’s that have been approved and waiting to come onboard”
“On shipping companies, we have done some assessment and some areas that needs imprisonment in terms of cargo release. We have also looked at the operations of the terminal operators, we have now submitted a comprehensive report and roadmap that would enable the Council pursue vividly and get the freight forwarding sector placed on the right pedestal”
“The area that has affected freight forwarding in Nigeria is the licensing regulations of the Nigeria Customs Service, those that are licensed by Customs are making it difficult for the industry to be sanitized”
“There is need to introduce custom brokerage, but so far, anyone claiming to be a freight forwarder in Nigeria is impersonating, this is not known to our laws yet” he said