By Kayode Farinto
I read with consternation and disbelief the claims by NCS Tincan Island command ,that Compt. Bashar has directed that the Customs Intelligent Unit (CIU) stoppage of containers at the exit gates be discontinued in line with the federal government Presidential Directives on Ease of Doing Business.This is fallacy of the century because CIU stoppage of dully released consignments was the invention of Compt. Bashar ‘s administration. It was not part of clearance procedure in Tincan before the advent of his administration. This was introduced at the inception of his administration.
I wouldn’t have reacted ordinarily but because Compt. Bashar was a member of our sub Committee that gave the road map on the Presidential Directives on Ease of Doing Business and one expects him to implement this recommendation to the later being a signatory to it instead of deceiving the citizenry with the press release and making them believe that he is actually complying with federal government directives, when in actual sense, he is not. Instead he is flouting it alongside other commands.
The under listed are aberrations to clearance procedure and clogs in the wheel of cargo clearance which may only be pronounced and notice in Tincan Island command.
1) Query and Amendment Seat.
Tincan Island Comptroller has continued to use this seat to raise frivolous demand notices (DN)against the headquarters’ instructions that all command should disband this seat hence the command through arm-twisting celebrated generating over 183 billion naira in the last six months. Two questions are begging for answers; how many importers have abandoned the command for other commands in the last few months? How compliant is the command in the area of trade facilitation? I put it to him that,this seat has continue to encourage corrupt tendencies in cargo clearance and it is done with impunity.
2) Abuse of automation of customs release.
One of the achievements of Dikko Inde’s administration was automation of customs process and procedures, amongst which is the release of cargoes.In our committee, as a short term measure, we recommended that once a cargo is released through automation, the idea of dispatch to terminal operators manually should be discourage (as immediate measure to encourage Ease of Doing Business). Till tomorrow, after cargoes have been released, manual dispatches are still being done, which not only delays jobs for days but involves extortion out of desperation. I remember vividly that he promised to be the first to implement this because it led to hot argument between customs and myself representing licensed customs agents.
Gate procedure ought to be simplify and fast tracked by virtue of our recommendations. In fact the numbers of officers to be maintained at the gates are not to be more that 3 to 4 whose job is to collect exit notes from agents. It was agreed that all customs bureaucracy and procedures must end at every terminal since customs officers are also there but what do we have In Tincan?
Permit me to highlight this:
At the first gate, there are 3 manual registrations while second gate has 4 manual registrations to register only Single Goods Declarations that have been duly released at the terminal. Meanwhile,there must be manual dispatches of customs release to the gates before any agent can exit his consignments. (Remember that,since it is automation, it can be done through computer by simply imputing the C nos. of the SGD). Agents are compelled to part with money at every stage of this registration. What a calamity?
Issuance of ” Disk” at the gate.
A small paper that is called disk are eventually stapled on every SGD after payment of about 2,000 naira depending on the kind of goods you are clearing. I wrote to the management of Customs as a Chairman then and this practice was to be discontinued. There is compliance at the first gate but the second gates still continues with this practice..
Sighting of containers at the gate.
Examinations are conducted on duly released consignments /containers under the pretext of sighting of containers. This is the worse of it all because some of the gates officers are incorrigible and above anyone’s control. Agents are made to part with money if your containers will not be sighted. I wish to state unequivocally that there is a preponderance number of officers at the two gates. The worse are officers in the cadre of ASC 1 that have worked with Comptroller Bashar in ICT Abuja ,numbering about 20 are posted to the two gates to query their boss’ job, meaning that, an ASC1 at any gate may disallow a container that has been exited by his boss from going out.
The Modernization of customs has taken care of lots of things that where containers are released wrongly by acts of omission or commission, Post Clearance Audit are to exhume such irregularities and issue Demand Notices accordingly but what do we have in Tincan? Intervention and unnecessary alerts at every stage of getting your cargo released. This is against what the Tincan Island command of customs wants Nigerians to believe. As a practitioner and member of the sub committee of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business, I say Compt. Bashar is being economical with truth.
Just two Saturdays ago,containers were not exited at the gates just because the server was down until I called the command’s PRO, Mr. Uche Ejesieme and asked him to convince me on why this should be knowing full well that terminal operators will not issue TDO if such cargo has not been released in their system.
I do not want to start whistle blowing but just to put the record straight, there is no eureka on ease of doing business yet in tincan.
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