How I Subdued Ojo Akintoye and His Team At Tin Can Port Chapter—-Mojeed
…Gives Account of 1-year in Office As ANLCA Tin Can Chairman
On January 4th 2021, Alhaji Muhammed Mojeed Olomola was sworn in as the Chairman of Tin Can Island chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) amidst a lot of leadership crisis between the National Executive Committee (NECOM) and the Board of Trustees (BOT)
Even though the crisis is yet to be resolved, Alhaji Mojeed succeeded in spending one year in office, and in this exclusive interview with DAILY TREND NEWS, he did an appraisal of his time in office at at Tin Can Port Chapter.
What is your appraisal of your one year in office ?
The beginning was so rough because of the crisis in the association, before I came in as the Chairman, after being inaugurated by the Registered Board of Trustees, almost five months of that our coming on board was characterised by crisis, but despite that, we thank God that we were able to subdue many things for our people. First is the shipping and terminal problems for our people, we fought for the dropping of containers and we overcame it, before now, it takes four to five days to drop your container, but we have solved this problem for our members, such that if you submit your Bill of Laden today, your container would be dropped the next day. This is one of our first achievement.
The second achievement is the traffic jam and the E-call up, our faced a lot of traffic challenges then, but with much efforts, we were able to work underneath, this was one of our achievements because we partnered advised NPA on how to go about it. Today, you can see that the Tin Can Port axis is a bit free of traffic, these are due to little efforts from the association.
In terms of operations, we have a lot of challenges with constant alerts on cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service, we were able to discuss with Tin Can Area Controller and now the issue of alert is a thing of the past. Today, before you get an alert on your job, it must have been a very serious commitment.
The other issue we had was the jacking up of the PAAR, this was not caused by the Controller, it emanated from the Abuja headquarters, they increased the benchmark value of a 20foot container from N400,000 to N1million, we fought this through our BOT and we let customs know that this policy is not favorable.
In the area of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) we are so happy that we have a new person at the helms of affairs of the FOU, he is a very realistic person, we have met with him and he has kept all the promises he made to us. You can hardly see FOU mounting illegal checkpoints on the road now. He gave us his words and we are enjoying his words now.
How would you rate your performance so far?
We cannot rate ourselves, it is the people that would rate us, if you check our performance, you would see that we have touched everywhere in the chapter since we came onboard, including terminal operations, shipping, customs and so on.
Sometimes last year, there was a crisis at Five Star Terminal and you shutdown the terminal, how have you been able to manage crisis?
The crisis at Five Star Terminal led to us shutting down the terminal, this was as a result of a vessel called Glovis Tella and some other ships that came it then, we couldn’t get our Bill from the terminal and they were charging us on daily basis. We kicked against this and they had to waive 50% of the storage charges for us. Since then, Five Star Terminal have been complying and their terminal is improving. Some of the request we put forward, in terms of security, they now police their terminal very well now, they are equally trying to install security systems at the terminal which you have to pass through before gaining access.
The issue of server that created the problems at that time, they are now trying to install a new server at the end of the terminal, if you go there today, you see people working on it. These are responses to the demands we put forward to the terminal operator.
How has the activities of hoodlums stopping cleared vehicles at Mile 2 area affected your members?
The issue of the Local governments cutting tickets to vehicles, we have met with some of the Chairmen and they are trying to work on them now, it is affecting us, you pay almost N2,000 to Mile 2, at whose expense? The local government chairmen have promised to look into the matter.
We have Mr Ojo Akintoye laying claim to the Chairmanship seat at Tin Can Port Chapter, how have you been able to survive factionalisation?
At our earlier stage of coming onboard, we had challenges because of him going here and there, but after some few months, they have faded away, we have overcome them because we have a lot of things that we have put on ground, our people are seeing the way we work and they have keyed into our side because they are seeing results. As the authentic chairman of the chapter, I have my secretariat, I have three operational vehicles with me that we use, these other group do not have any offices, they don’t have anything, so how can you be comparing me with them? They are nowhere to be found, they are just impersonating. They went to the extent of trying to steal our operational bus at the chapter Secretariat, if not that we know ourselves and that was why stepped down that case, we would have taken it to another dimension. But we believe that we are one, so we should not use the big stick to punish them, by now, some of them should have been languishing in Kirikiri, but we decided to let peace reign.
I wouldn’t want you to call them a faction again, there is no faction at Tin Can Port Chapter, what we have is aggrieved members, we have been trying to bring them onboard so that we can work at the same pace.
There is a new valuation system introduced by the Customs
The VIN Valuation has not started yet, but few months ago, they tried to put it into the system as Brawal, from what we saw, it is not going to be palatable of they work it that way.
What we need from the Nigeria customs is that, we have the former way by which they issue us valuations, they should be giving us the old value, not to go and exaggerate the price in the system such that we won’t be able to afford it.
On 2007 vehicles, before now we were taking N250,000 as surface value, but with this new valuation system, surface value is now about N900,000 in the system. How many people can afford clearing such vehicle? It means you would be using N1.7million to clear a vehicle of 2007 which is not palatable and unacceptable.
The only thing they can do is go to their old system, get the former ex-factory price input it into the system, this is what we have been paying before, by so doing, government would generate more money.
Second hand vehicles do not have value, by CEMA, there is 10% yearly depreciation value on the vehicle, if a vehicle of 15years is now given N200,000 as surface value, it is a plus for the government. But customs is trying to come up with what we won’t be able to afford.
Any attempt to increase the value we are paying on these vehicles, we would not accept it.
You can see what they are saying about their target in 2021, customs realised N2.2Trillion through the blood of people, they made that money through serious milking of our people, many importers cannot travel again because of that revenue they collected by force, they are now targeting another N4.1Trillion, where do they expect to get that from?
Already, importation has reduced to 40percent, I don’t know how it would work.
By this valuation policy, we were told that overaged cars can no longer come into the port, would this not affect your people?
By government policy, vehicles older than 15-years are not allowed to come into Nigeria.
If the government should reduce the clearing cost of new vehicles, nobody wants to buy old vehicles, you cannot buy a vehicle for 1,000$ abroad and be clearing it here with 2,000$
In cotonou, the newer the vehicle you are importing, the lower the revenue. Our government cannot be slamming high duty on our ports and expect people to patronise us.
Many importers have even abandoned the vehicle business, there are so many cars out there now and nobody is buying them.
I foresee that agents would not have jobs to clear again soon
Definitely, it would affect many heads and customs as well, though some of them are collecting salaries, but I can tell you that they cannot sustain on that salary.
Tin Can Port still maintains its reputation as a notorious port, we saw drugs and arms imported last year, what are you doing to sensitize members on compliance?
The issue of drugs importation involves syndicates, I believe it is done in connection with people on the international market. Most of our agents are not aware of the drugs importation, some of them have been victims in the drug shipment, if as an agent you gave me a container that has drugs inside, I would never accept such a work, but the bad guys importing the drugs were outsmarting the agents, they don’t declare the truth, and that is why agents are caught unawares.
In terms of compliance, out people are complying with government policies and procedures of goods import.