The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA has declared support for the Tincan Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service over the recent commencement of night scanning of containers and weekend operations.
The Vice President of ANLCA, Prince Segun Oduntan pledged the support of the association when he paid a courtesy visit on the Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi. He subsequently conducted an inspection of the Customs operations on Tuesday night.
He pledged to speak to his members and educate them on the need to embrace the night operations introduced by Comptroller Nnadi and the weekend operation of the Customs.
The spots inspected by the ANLCA Vice President included the Tincan Releasing Desk, Scanning site, Ashaye and the exit gate where customs officers were seen, busy working.
Prince Oduntan lamented that due to the forthcoming yuletide, gridlock is gradually returning to the Tincan Port corridor and this has led to hike in haulage charges.
“We are going to talk to our members and tell our people that there’s a new innovation that is in town. I hear that part of the complaint is that they said our people are not coming. There was an era where our members suffered a lot to bring out trucks from this port, that era is gradually returning.
“Now, due to the NPA Eto Call-Up racketeering, the cost of haulage has increased, the haulage cost that came down as low as N250,000 and N300,000 is now increased to N800,000 and N1.2million.
“ANLCA being the foremost association, we are ready to buy into and give assistance to the Tincan Island command. You are starting this now, and you are like in the Pilot Phase, definitely, all others will follow suit”, Oduntan stated.
Responding, the Tincan Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi stressed that Nigerian Ports are supposed to operate 24 hours just like other ports of the world.
“The world does not sleep. When they’re sleeping in Nigeria, somebody in China is awake loading a container. When China is sleeping, Europe and America are awake loading containers. So it behooves us to also be awake 24 hours to receive and to exit these containers.
“In Nigeria, ship side operation is 24 hours. Certain aspects of the ship side operation is 24 hours. Certain aspects of custom work like enforcement and gate operation are 24 hours. Boarding and remodeling is 24 hours.
“But the nation has not or is yet to attain the level where basic operations like delivery of import loading cargo is achieved in the night. So we come to work by 8 o’clock in the morning. And like basic civil servants by 5, 6 in the evening, everybody is going home.
“We had to scan containers in the night, rather than close offices, usually by 4.30 or 5.30pm, we need to extend it to 8 p.m. in the night. We tried that and it worked, so we decided to extend it further.
“The first day we started, we scanned 56 containers. We said since it worked, we scanned up till 2 a.m. Before we stopped.
Now, let us those who enforce delivery of cargo outside the port work overnight too. We have started it, and it is working.
“We also introduced weekend operations. I issued a port order where I said that the Owambe mentality around the port environment should stop, officers and freight forwarders and indeed all port operators should come to work on Saturdays and Sundays to help ease conditions in the port.
“If you don’t come to work Saturdays and Sundays, shipping companies and terminal operators would collect their money, they collect their due money, there is no exemption for weekends”
Nnadi assured that the customs command has held a meeting with Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA where it has been agreed that security would be provided for the night operations and that NPA has agreed to lighten up the entire port environment.
“I called a meeting of the port manager, Tincan Island Port with TICT Terminal and Five Star Logistics Terminal, we held the meeting just yesterday and I got the commitment of NPA that they will mention it to their Managing Director and to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy to illuminate the port.
“According to them, the entire port environment will be illuminated, it will not just end within the port corridor alone, the entire perimeter of the port corridor too will be illuminated.
“Then we also agreed in that meeting that security will be provided from the port here, from the first gate up to Mile 2. Security will also be provided from the second gate up to the breweries in Ijora Axis,
“Part of what we also agreed was that the markets around the port environment should be streamlined, not to constitute nuisance, but to be part of the port community that will add value. It was a very honest meeting where all of us agreed that the achievement of 24 hours port operation outside ship side operation is achievable.
“Sadly, no single clearing agent was around to join us. Yes, my officers were complaining that the exercise may not work, that it may not be actualized because agents are not coming. If we give up now, they will also give up.
“We will continue until the clearing agents themselves and other stakeholders embrace the concept. So I am using this opportunity to appeal through ANLCA to the freight forwarders and the agents to join us in the night operation, to also join us in the weekend operation.
“The night operation is particularly important, particularly at Ashaye Gate because every night, trucks are loaded but they cannot go out, when they get to the gate, they park.
“In the morning when I go out there to confront the drivers, they will tell me that the agent is not here to pass them. When I ask the agent, they say that they are afraid to exit the port at night because the port corridor is not safe. Of course it is true.
“There have been cases in the past when containers were broached atop the bridges as they are going to owners’ warehouses. However, since NPA and the Minister are already in discussions on how to provide security along the corridor, I hope that the situation will become a thing of the past.
“On our own part, going by what we did at the scanning site, we made arrangements for food vendors. Bearing in mind that those that work there in the night will have to eat if they are hungry, we have spoken to our medical unit to be on standby at the scanning site.
“Just like we succeeded with the batch operation when I wrote the first memo reinventing batch operation in the port, I hope we will also succeed” Nnadi concluded.
Photo 1: (L-R): Prince Segun Oduntan, ANLCA National Vice President, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Customs Area Controller, Tincan Island Port Command and Mr. Femi Anifowose, Zonal Coordinator, Western Zone, ANLCA during the visit.
Photo 2: Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Customs Area Controller, Tincan Island Port Command showing Prince Segun Oduntan, ANLCA National Vice President ship chart during the visit.
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