Naira Redesign: Congestion Looms At Nigerian Seaports
…Freight Forwarders Face Challenges Paying Customs Duties, Shipping Charges
…As Bank Online Portals Crash
By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that Nigerian major ports are set to witness cargo congestions due to the controversial Naira redesign policy of the federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) even as freight forwarders at the port have lamented difficulty in payment of their customs duties, as well as shipping and terminal charges.
In an exclusive report last week, DAILY TREND report that some of the freight forwarders raised alarm of how they were being made to pay “settlements” to corrupt officers Nigeria Customs Service through POS operators because officers are scared of receiving bank transfers due to the ongoing cash crunch.
However, the Nigeria Customs Service through its senior public relations officers have debunked this insinuations by the freight forwarders.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Barr Michael Ovien has lamented that the freight forwarders are not being allowed into the banks to make customs duty payments, even as the online payment portals have since crashed.
In a chat with DAILY TREND, the ANLCA Scribe said “Today what is our fate, can we pay customs duty, terminal and shipping charges? These are our challenges, it is an economic challenge that we should be looking at, we are looking at how seamless our operations at the port can go
“Since this Naira redesign challenges started, we cannot make online transactions, we should be looking at the economic impact of this policy, you cannot find your way at the port if you have not paid customs duty
“I accessed a job last week Friday in order to pay customs duty, I have not been able to pay since last week Friday, am only going back there today (Monday) to see whether the portal will go, this is not the fault of customs
“The situation is peculiar to all the banks. When you visit the banks and you want to enter, people would not allow you, they suspect that the bank wants to arrange money for you
“The congestion is based on government Policy through the CBN, if you cannot pay terminal charges, you would not be able to position your container for physical examination or scanning
“Terminal operators online platforms have been grounded because they coexist with the banks, you cannot do payment unless you visit the bank, if you make transfer from your phone, they won’t see your payment” he said
While speaking in defense of the Nigeria Customs Service officers, Barr Ovien faulted claims by his colleagues that customs officers were demanding bribe through payment to POS operators.
According to him, compliant freight forwarders do not need to bother about settlement to customs officers.
“We don’t have any challenges with the Nigeria Customs Service, they are also filling the pains we are all facing, they need the Naira in their day to day running of the office to buy fuel, put fuel in the house, we are all the same”
“The staff of customs, terminal operators and shipping companies, even the agencies are all feeling the same brunt, including the Journalists who are moving from one point to the other”
“The transporters now, you must make bank transfer to them, if your application is not responding and you cannot make transfer, they would not move your container to the point of delivery. They are also making transfer to the diesel sellers”
The ANLCA Scribe states that the cashless policy of the federal government is a total misdirection and that it would have an adverse effect on the economy in general.
In a reaction to the allegations by freight forwarders that customs was demanding bribe through POS operators, Public Relations Officer of Tin Can Island Command of Customs, Mrs Nkiruka Nwala faulted the claims.
She said “What are they settling for? If you have done your proper documentation, if you have complied and paid accurate duties, levies and VAT, why would you make settlements? There are legal procedures established to handle such matters, if you have paid your accurate duties and levies as required, you can go to court
“Whoever is alleging, whom have they reported to? There is an established channels to handle these challenges, the CAC as well as various commands run an open door policy” she said.