There are indications that the Federal Government of Nigeria would any moment from now re-open the nation’s land borders that were shut down for over a year now, this is even as the freight forwarders have lost over 10,000 jobs due to the land border closure.
National President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Tony Iju Nwabunike dropped this indication in a press statement on Monday, saying that the association at a recent meeting in Abuja, secured government assurances to reopen the border.
The ANLCA President said it was worrisome that cargoes on transit and mobile assets like trucks laden with goods worth over N130b belonging to private business people were trapped since August 18, 2019 when the borders were shut under a joint operation, codenamed “Exercise Swift Response”.
Nwabunike said there was need for the Nigerian business community to maximize the benefits of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which takes effect from January 2021.
“ANLCA had reminded the Federal Government that AfCFTA regime which hopes to take effect from January 2021 with secretariat in Accra Ghana, will place Nigerian businesses people at disadvantage if the nation’s land borders remained closed to trade”
“The association further reminded the government that Nigeria will be shut out of trade with proximate countries of Benin Republic, Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic in West and Central African countries”
“It also identified the historic and strategic trade impact of Nigeria to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) where it is bordered by Niger, Cameroun and Chad”
“The association therefore secured the assurances of the Federal Government on the need to effect gradual reopening of the closed borders with particular focus on rules of origin to prevent abuses of incentives like the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).
This in our view will help in discouraging smuggling activities through all approved routes”
In line with the ECOWAS protocol, “we hope all Neighbouring countries will henceforth deliver transit goods to the Nigeria customs service.
We posit that for Nigeria Customs service to be In tune with international best practices it should allow Micro Chip shoot on every container along the ECOWAS route into the country” he said
According to him, most of the goods with perishable timelines trapped at the border have either been destroyed due to expiry periods or damaged beyond redemption as a result of exposure to unfavorable elements.
Continuing, he said “ANLCA findings also confirm vandalism, theft and arson on some of the trucks and goods they carry, therefore causing great losses to many struggling business men and women.
Of note is the over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs that have been lost so far due to this policy, which in our view , should have been approached and implemented differently” he stated