…Tasks Blue Economy Minister, Oyetola on Regulation
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Stakeholders in the Nigerian freight forwarding industry on Saturday raised a fresh alarm on the delays in clearing of cargoes from Nigerian Ports, saying that it takes up to two months to get a cargo cleared.
Speaking at the The Omis Award, a maritime and offshore award held at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, former President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu called on the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola to hit the ground running.
Shittu who was speaking as a panelist at the occasion, urged Oyetola and his new ministry to come up with regulations that would add value to cargo clearance in Nigeria.
According to the foremost Customs Licensed Agent, cargoes can be released from American and British Ports in 24hours, it takes 3-days to release cargo in South Korean Port, but it takes 2-Months in Nigeria.
“Cargo clearance in Nigeria is one of the most difficult, you can release cargoes within 24 hours if you are in America and Britain, in South Korea it is about three days, but in Nigeria, it is about two months.
“We need to find out what is wrong. This is because all the Federal government agencies inside the port today have been empowered to raise IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) which is outside their budget, so people are more interested in the revenue they would collect Internally, than the ones they would collect for government” Shittu stated
While speaking on importation of dangerous goods into Nigeria, Shittu observed that Customs Licensed Agents are at the receiving end because whenever a cargo is intercepted, only the agent in most cases are swiftly arrested.
He said “Only the shipper knows what he is importing, the freight forwarder does not have an idea of what is inside the cargo, until when he gets to where he would conduct cargo examination with Customs and other agencies that he suddenly found out that it is a dangerous cargo.
“The Customs brokers go through the documentation process with government agencies on behalf of the importer. The bottom line is that the CRFFN that is designed to regulate the affairs of the Customs brokers and the freight forwarders are falling short in their responsibilities, partly because the Ministry never thought well that, that part of their regulation is important.
“This is why we are clamouring that this new Ministry of Blue Economy, both on the sea and on land, must be alive to its functions because we are representative of the shipper who keeps you in the dark and you take a risk by coming forward to do declaration because you are licensed the Customs, and you are liable for what your principal does.
“This is why, when they open the containers and they found Drugs, the first person they would grab is the Customs agent.
“It is a matter of concern for us, so we are charging the new ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to analyse the responsibility of everyone concerned in the value chain of cargo arrival and delivery” he said
The former ANLCA President expressed sadness that the image of the licensed customs agent at the port have been battered as far as unlawful importations are concerned.
“The most important document a Customs agent needs is; Know Your Importer (KYI) meaning that, you must know your importers and the kind of job he does” he advised