By DAPO OLAWUNI
The 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has descended on private terminal owners in Nigeria, saying that many of them lacked equipment, required space, and most do not have paved floor, and usually waterlogged.
The Team has equally threatened to descend on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for allegedly taking illegal product samples, SON officials take large chunk of imported items, all in the name of taking samples.
The National Cordinator of the Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS said that the team shutdown Denca Bonded Terminal in Festac Lagos for lack of paved floors and constantly getting waterlogged and destroying cargoes.
He equally said that SON must produce circular from the Federal Government that authorises them to take samples from containers, alleging that SONs officials take illegal product samples.
The NAGAFF Vice President lamented that there are irregularities in licensing and regulation of bonded terminal operations in Nigeria.
According to him, it is the duty of the Nigerian Shippers Council to regulate activities of these bonded terminals, while it is the duty of Nigeria Customs Service to license their operations.
Tanko however lamented that both agencies are lagging behind in their responsibilities.
Speaking, he said “Most of the Bonded Terminal Operators in Nigeria do not have the capacity to even own a terminal in the first place”
“The required capacity is that you need to get a minimum of four forklifts of different sizes, the one that can pick twenty foot containers, and forty foot containers
You need a large expanse of land that can contain at least 20,000 containers
Most of the bonded terminals don’t have these”
“For example, at Denca Bonded Terminal, if you position a container for examination, if you are unlucky that it rains that day, your container is finished, flood would take over the terminal”
“It is the job of the Nigerian Shippers Council to regulate the bonded terminal operators, while it is the duty of Nigeria Customs Service to license them”
“Before you own a bonded terminal, Customs are expected to go and examine the location and then give you approval,
But because of corruption, after they have been told to inspect the facility, the officers would okay it, meanwhile it is not up to required standard
This was why we sent our boys to lock up the terminal” he said
He declared that the 100% Compliance team was established to ensure that freight forwarders and government agencies do the right thing as far as port operations are concerned.
According to him, over the years, freight forwarders were the sacrificial lambs who are always blamed for non-compliance, he said that this time around, they are ready to do the right thing, so, every other operator must follow suite or risk exposure.
Tanko charged importers and their freight forwarders to declare correctly the content of their containers, in order to avoid customs and other agencies harassment.
“We started our campaigning from Alaba market, campaigning to importers on the need to do the right thing.
We also told freight forwarders to stop using their company name for importers to ship cargoes that they are not even aware of the content”
“Some of the freight forwarders doing the wrong thing and benefitting from it, they are even attacking us, they see us coming to block their way, these people have money to fight us, so we also must be very prepared”
“For now, we have not even started working yet, we are still campaigning, we are trying to go for seminar with our operatives to make sure they are well equipped.
We have not attacked anybody, and yet you can see the attack against us in the industry”
Tanko said that the 100% Team has equally told SON to provide a circular from the Federal Government that authorised them to be taking samples.
“If they dont have one, they should go and get it, or else we stop them from operating inside the port, this means they are looting, the same goes for NAFDAC”
“Because of this, they are seeing me as a bad person, there is no manner of threats that I have not received”
“They are still working, we have not stopped them, we are only telling them what we want” he said