We Have Introduced So Many Measures To Assist Importers, Freight Forwarders – Nnadi

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The Customs Area Controller of the Tincan Island Customs command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi has said that the command under his leadership has introduced so many measures to assist importers as well as their agents to enable them have seamless cargo clearing since he assumed office at the command.

Nnadi who disclosed this when he played host to the leadership of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria, AREFFN at the command’s headquarters at Tincan Island Port on Tuesday recalled that when he resumed at the command, he made it clear that he would be reporting for duty at the command at 8.am each day adding that he had been going round, begging freight forwarders to do the same so that cargo examination, rather than commencing at 10.00 am each day as was the case before his resumption, should now commence at 8.00am at the command.

“They (freight forwarders) said no, it is too early and I asked, can we resume by 9, they reluctantly agreed. I gave them one week and I went back there by exactly 9 O’clock and nobody was ready for the examination and I stayed with them until 10, nobody was ready. You can verify that. So, we have a national challenge here that all of us rather than cast blame should actually address.

“When I came and resume, I said I am going to address the issue of multiple homogeneous cargo and the same bill of lading. Some of your members were there. I said, if you have such cargo, let us randomly select a few, examine them and use the same result, if it is compliant, to release the rest.

“We have introduced fast track for you, we have approved Authorized Economic Operators. What does that even mean? If our partner AEO operators in China tell us that containers belonging to Alhaji Daura the President have been examined in China and found to be completely in compliance with Nigerian law, when those containers arrive in Nigeria, we will not examine them, it will go. That’s what AEO is all about. I am waiting for a day where we will count at least ten to twenty importers who, through you, will boldly say, I am qualified for AEO at least for your members. We have some who are already enjoying it, we have fast track, there are those enjoying it. So, let us upgrade so that a greater majority and numbers of our containers should enjoy these facilities so that this blame game will stop”, Nnadi said.

The CAC disclosed that he was already addressing the issue of delays in positioning of containers booked for examination with the terminal operators. According to him, “Those of you who were also in the field last week would have confirmed this. Part of what I try to do here is to recommend that we work on Saturdays and Sundays and we are doing it already. I am only praying that it should become national so that all commands will be doing it and all terminals will be doing it. We are already doing it with TICT, we come to work Saturdays and Sundays, we examine containers. So, we are still going to work with them to address that.”

He however frowned at those who were regularly in the habit of comparing clearing in Nigerian Ports with that of the neighbouring countries saying, “some of the things we do here, you dare not try it in Benin Republic. We have grown to a level where people no longer get scared of committing infringement against the customs Act. People will approach you to say there’s an infraction, give me DN.

“Our law actually recommends that when there is an infraction, you seize the container and you prosecute the person. If it is a matter of value, you raise DN, but when it is an outright false declaration, the container should be seized. Mr. (AREFFN) President, if we want to apply that law, how many of your members seated here will have their containers released? Very few! If you also want, we can experiment with that today.

“Sometimes, I don’t like dwelling on this because if we put this to public knowledge, it will also impact negatively on your importers because for every infringement and infractions for which re-examination is asked for or for which DN is being paid, there is a delay and this delay delays the turnaround of the empty containers and therefore, when you want to ship to Nigeria, your shippers charge you overhead for the delays associated with their empty containers. When their vessels come here and because we are not removing those containers quickly, the same containers delay the vessel to go back. Therefore, they increase the turnaround time for vessels and increase your charges.

“So, you see a situation where a particular container going from China to any other West African country pays about USD6,000 as freight but when it is coming here, it pays higher because of our activities and rather than address these activities, we shift blame, we look for officers to blame. So, what we are going to do is to address some of these issues?”

Speaking on incessant stopping of goods in clearing by the Enforcement and other Units, Comptroller Nnadi said, “The Enforcement Unit for which I was once the head here is the police arm of the Service. Whenever there are infringements, we recourse to them¬† to intercept the good.

“If you notice, there are so many interventions in cargo clearing because Nigeria is a multi-regulatory country. We have NAFDAC, we have SON, we have NDLEA, we have the Police. Most of these people make interventions in cargo clearance and everything that comes from all these people, even from those within customs, are all endorsed to enforcement for intervention. So, we can’t stop them from doing their work, that is ideal.

“However, when your members find that such interventions are not genuine and legitimate, please do not hesitate to report to me. As expected, I will take action.”

Photo: (L-R): Alhaji Bala Lawan Daura, National President, AREFFN and Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Customs Area Controller, Tincan Island Port Command during the visit at the Command’s headquarters Tuesday.

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