By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as freight forwarders have been calling on the Nigeria Customs Service to implement a buy-back scheme on all overtime cargoes being transferred out of the Apapa port terminals to Ikorodu government warehouse, stakeholders have warned the Customs not to implement the scheme, warning that it is an attempt by freight forwarders to start “flying” containers out of the terminal.
Containers flying involves taking delivery of containers without due process or paying appropriate duties. Over the years, there has been series of cases involving containers flying out or getting breached at the Ikorodu warehouse.
The stakeholders while speaking on Thursday during an industry stakeholders’ virtual dialogue organized by Ships and Ports and monitored by DAILY TREND NEWS also urged Customs not to allow freight forwarders abandon their containers perpetually at the Ikorodu warehouse, even as they called for decongesting of the port through 100 percent use of scanning machines.
One of the participants at the virtual dialogue whose identity was given as Beshow, warned customs not to heed to alleged calls by freight forwarding associations like Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) for Customs to implement the buy-back scheme.
He warned that Customs should “discourage the buyback scheme that the ANLCA and NAGAFF are clamouring for because it will make unscrupulous customs agent to deliberately leave their cargoes to be moved to ikorodu so that they can ‘fly’ it out of the government warehouse without paying appropriate dues”
Deputy Comptroller of Customs and representative of Customs on the program, DC Anthony Anyalogu has however said that any overtime containers at the port at this time are those with litigation on them.
He disclosed that the Customs has reduced the cargo examination time at the various terminals in order to avoid spread of COVID-19.
“For now, most of the containers that are still in the port, it’s either litigations are going on, or Customs is still making enquiries on them.
We are still having some problems with the status of Ikorodu port”
Anyalogu said while Customs cannot completely stop physical examination of cargoes because of high risks imports, it is planning to introduce the use of endoscopic cameras for inspection of cargoes that requires physical examination.
On his part, Public Relations of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (AFFLON), Giwa AbdulRazaq advised the Federal Government to bring sanity into the Aviation and Maritime sub-sector by engaging stakeholders and make policies that will reduce human contact at the ports.
He also charged government to encourage the relevant government agencies to have a single window platform, “make the rail and road transport facilities efficient, support indeginius players and give the Nigeria Shippers Council the Iegis|ative power to check the excesses of foreign players in the industry”
Another participant, Moshood Oladimeji said the major thing government can do to enhance cargo clearance during the COVID-19 Pandemic is to give much attention to movement of overtime cargos in order to facilitate the space inside the port terminals.
He also called on government to reverse the exchange rate and VAT for import purposes to old rate, saying that “Based on the new rate, it is very difficult for Shipping players to do the business”