By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigeria Customs Service has shutdown a Roll-on Roll-off terminal; Clarion Bonded Terminal located at Alakija, Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos over alleged financial infractions in their transactions with the service.
Apparently, the terminal has been on shutdown for the past two months.
This is even as the customs have suspended about 107 practicing licenses belonging to clearing agents for allegedly trying to deprive the government of needed revenue.
Clarion Bonded Terminal is one of the biggest vehicle handling terminals designated to the Five Star Logistics Terminal under the Tin Can Island Port Lagos.
Confirming this to DAILY TREND NEWS in an exclusive chat, Public Relations Officer of Tin Can Customs Command, Mr Uche Ejesieme said the terminal was shutdown when the Tariff and Trade department of customs examined the terminal’s operations and discovered irregularities.
Our correspondent learnt that consequently, cargoes are no longer stemmed to the Clarion Terminal, but existing ones inside the terminal can be taken out.
Meanwhile, most of the vehicles arriving at the Five Star Logistics Terminal are now being received at Classic Bonded Terminal, another Roll-on Roll-off terminal around Ojo Lagos, so as to decongest the Tin Can Port.
Speaking with our correspondent, the customs spokesman said “Unfortunately, the terminal was closed because customs management observed some infractions from the terminal, this was why the CGC directed the Trade and Tariff to write this command to supply some information for them to verify so that we can understand the real cause of the problem
“We believe that in due course, the terminal would be reopened again for normal business, but that should be after a very thorough and painstaking investigation.
“In this kind of trade environment, there are bound to be disputes from time to time, but when it comes, it behoves on owners of licenses to come forward and prove their innocence”
“While they are having these issues, there is another bonded terminal; Classic 3, last week, the Customs Area Controller, Musa Abdullahi visited the place at Old Ojo Road, he went by boat, he was impressed by the quality of facilities he met there, he did not waste time to commend owners of the facility for what they have and the capacity to help us decongest the port”
Also confirming the situation to our correspondent, Secretary of Tin Can Island Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Barr Michael Ovien said it was discovered that a lot of unpaid assessment was under Clarion Terminal running into N300million both on containers and vehicles.
Explaining the reasons why some customs agent licenses were suspended, Barr Ovien said “If you assess a job with an licensed agency, and you have not made payment to put you on the green line that would show customs that would release your job and close the SGD, the SGD would remain unpaid, the licensed agents is thereby held responsible”
According to him, “Every year, bonded terminal owners approach customs for renewal, when Clarion came, customs went into their file and found out that jobs are being carried away, some paid only duty without any inspection Act written, some vehicles were being stolen, there was one by an officer, after duty was paid and inspection Act written, they wanted to go for delivery but the vehicle was nowhere to be found.
“The customs management sat and put an embargo on all bonded terminal, saying that all the unpaid assessments should be cleared before the renewal of 2021 would be given to them.
“The bond they had did not cover the debt.
Because of the volume of the financial transactions, Clarion is still looking for money to clear it.
“Agents were however given a leaf, you can take delivery, you can release but no new consignment should be sent to Clarion Terminal.
“All vehicles coming into Five Star Terminal are now being stemmed to Classic Bonded Terminal, especially those that are running, not aacidented. These are taken by barge. The ones that are not movable are kept at the port where there is facilities to take the delivery” he said