Customs CG Meets Terminal Operators, Clearing Agents, Pledges Commitment to Issues of Common Interest

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Chief Commercial Officer, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Kehinde Olubi-Neye; General Manager, Government Relations & Security, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Mr Fubara Awantaye; Managing Director, Lekki Port, Mr. Du Ruogang ; Acting Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi; Managing Director, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Mr Yann Magarian and Chief Operating Officer, Lekki Port, Mr. Laurence Smith during the official visit to Lekki Port, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos today.

Chief Commercial Officer, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Kehinde Olubi-Neye; General Manager, Government Relations & Security, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Mr Fubara Awantaye; Managing Director, Lekki Port, Mr. Du Ruogang ; Acting Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi; Managing Director, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Mr Yann Magarian and Chief Operating Officer, Lekki Port, Mr. Laurence Smith during the official visit to Lekki Port, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos today.

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Ag. Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, has pledged willingness to work with stakeholders, terminal operators and port authority to improve economic development.

He made this known during his official visit to Apapa Area Command on Tuesday, 18 July 2023.

He said the role of Customs Agents and importers in the port administration is very important and will create a platform for issues to be resolved.

He said, “Customs Agents, importers play a very important role in the administration of the port and this is why we believe that we must regularly, periodically create a platform for engagement on issues”.

“This is going to be the feature of our relationship with not just the Customs Agents but all our stakeholders, we believe in partnership and we believe that we can use innovation to drive the kind of change that we want to see’, he emphasised.

Dr. Kayode Farinto, a freight forwarder, who spoke on behalf of other stakeholders, stated that there are many challenges but assured of their support to achieve success.

At the Lilypond export Command, the Ag. CGC and his entourage were received by the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Babandede.

He commended the concept of establishing export processing terminals. According to him, it is not just a strategy to decongest the port, but there are many other benefits involved in it.

“I, therefore, commend the initiative of establishing very dedicated terminals to take care of exports, for us to boost our local production and earn foreign exchange”, he said.

He urged exporters and other agencies of government to continue to partner with Customs to ease the export process to ensure that they get value for the money invested in the business.

“It is a good step in the right direction. I’ve had several discussions with the Customs Area Controller on what you can do, how we can fine-tune the process to ensure that our exporters get real value for the money they have invested in their businesses”, he said.

“I believe that we will be able to reignite the interest of Nigerians about the potentials that exist so that instead of having so many people looking for white collar jobs that are not there, they could be gainfully engaged in this kind of ventures that will bring food to their table and prosperity in Nigeria”, he added.

Similarly, the Customs Boss also had a breakfast meeting with representatives of shipping companies and terminal operators on Wednesday, 19th July 2023. He emphasised the need for such arrangements to discuss issues of best interest.

“I believe in the power of consultation and collaboration with our stakeholders. Each time we need to discuss any issue, I will expect one or two members to flag it and we will be willing to set up this kind of meeting”, he said.

The Ag. CGC expressed willingness to work with all stakeholders to manage issues of common interest to all in a mutually beneficial manner.

During his first official visit to the port in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, on Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Adeniyi explained that the NCS will provide all necessary support to Lekki Port to facilitate and boost trade in Nigeria in line with the mandate of the Nigeria Customs Service.

“We are coming with a shared understanding of what the Nigerian economy needs. We don’t need to look further than the investment we see here. We want to generate foreign exchange. We want foreign investment to come to Nigeria so that jobs can be created for our people and we can raise revenue.

“What we are seeing holds the promise and potential to achieve those objectives. As an agency of government, we will continue to be a partner with a shared vision. When we work together on major policy decisions, we will overcome any major issue that may arise,” he said.

Adeniyi described Lekki Port as a catalyst and a game-changer that would contribute to Nigeria’s economic prosperity and serve as a massive source of revenue for the government, given its capacity to handle large vessels.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of Lekki Port, Du Ruogang, thanked the new Acting Comptroller General for honoring the port’s invitation to pay a visit so early in his term as acting CG.

“On behalf of the port promoters, China Harbour and Tolaram, we congratulate you on your appointment, and we wish you great success in your work as CG of Customs. Lekki Port is eager to cooperate with you to leverage technology and automation for more efficient customs operations,” he said.

Ruogang stated that Lekki Port had all the modern equipment and the features of a global port available in China, Singapore, Malaysia and Tangier. He added that the cooperation of the Customs is crucial to the port’s success as a very smooth and efficient customs operation is key to attracting customers to the port.

Also, speaking during the visit, the Chief Executive Officer of the container terminal operator, Lekki Freeport Terminal, Mr Yann Magarian disclosed that with the commencement of commercial operations at Lekki Freeport Terminal, Nigeria’s position as the maritime hub of West Africa has been restored.

“In the few months of operations, we have achieved significant milestones at the Lekki Freeport terminal. These include increased productivity at Nigerian Ports using our state-of-the-art super post-Panamax cranes. This has allowed us to reduce operational hours on vessels while at berth; commissioning two of the fastest scanning machines in the country, which allows the scanning of containers in less than 1 minute and the commencement of transhipment services in Nigeria. This is the first of its kind. We are progressively returning container trade lost to neighbouring West African ports”, he said.

In addition, Magarian commended the Federal Government of Nigeria and various stakeholders, including the Nigerian Customs Service, for their support in making Lekki Port a reality.

The acting CG and his entourage were taken on a tour of the container terminal, where they observed the ship-to-shore cranes and RTGs and observed the scanners in operation.

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