The President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, on Wednesday led the some officials of the association on a courtesy visit to the Customs Area Controller of the Apapa Customs Command, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba where they entered a pact to ensure trade facilitation and boost revenue into the coffers of the Federal Government.
Speaking during the visit, Ogunojemite lamented the persistent customs server failure which he said exposed the freight forwarders to the payment of unnecessary demurrage thereby adding to the cost of doing business at the port.
He noted that the freight forwarders, in most cases, failed to capture their jobs as a result of the persistent customs server failure leading to payment of outrageous amount in demurrage even as he exonerated the Service of any wrongdoing in this regard since that aspect of the job was being handled by a service privy, Webb Fontaine.
Noting that the association had brought both the Senate and the House of Representatives together on this matter, the APFFLON President said, “I have been privileged to represent freight forwarders at the House of Representatives and the Senate on industry issues, specifically on activities of WebFontaine.
“For instance, since last week, we have been having challenges in capturing our jobs and we are talking about Foreign Direct Investments, we are talking of reforming the economy entirely, how do we come about this if we don’t have the synergy with Customs?
“We equally have working relationship with other government agencies including SON, NAFDAC, among others, but Customs is the main agency that makes things work at the port.”
On the reason for the visit, he said, “Our visit today is to improve upon our relationship, you have been a very good father to us, and the issues we discussed with you have been attended to.
“This is my first time of visiting the Apapa command (in my capacity as the President), I have always restricted my visits to the ACG and I rely on the reports that comes from my Chapter executives. I found it important to visit you today because of the credible records you have made at the command so far.”
While introducing some executive members of the association in Apapa chapter to the Controller, Ogunojemite urged him to extend the hands of fellowship to them pledging that his members would always stick to the rules of engagement in carrying out their business in the command.
On his part, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba commended APFFLON members in Apapa chapter, describing them as some of the most compliant stakeholders at the command, while he assuring that he would always maintain an open door policy with the association.
“We feel highly honored that you are visiting us today because you are an essential commodity. I want to thank you for your interest and commitment to the service and in particular, Apapa Port.
“One thing I do anywhere I work is to maintain an open door policy to our stakeholders and chart a way forward together. I have met with your Apapa chapter members and they have been quite helpful.
“I make bold to say that your members at Apapa port do not have any issues with us, this is because they are compliant. However, in every family, there would be a Judas, let us send information to them all. We need the cooperation of everybody because we want to serve you better, please help us tell all your members”, the CAC said.
Informing that the protracted server failure which had lasted since last week Thursday has been resolved, the CAC appealed to the members of APFFLON as well as other port users to have confidence in the Service, and always make honest declarations in order to avoid cargo delay.
He said, “On the issue of server failure, I can tell you boldly that it has been resolved, because anytime there is server failure, we are also not comfortable because it makes us look inefficient.
““People may not know why cargo is delayed, it is not from us but the service provider, and the new management of the Customs under the leadership of Comptroller General Bashir Adewale Adeniyi is trying to ensure that 48 hours delivery of cargoes is achieved and that is why all of us are working towards that.
“I want to reassure you that we in Apapa command are here to facilitate legitimate trade, that is what we know we can do to achieve the target. Revenue is involved, but the stakeholders, the importers and agents should have confidence in us in order to bring in their cargo.
“How can they have confidence in us? It is when we attend to their cargoes timely. I also want to use this opportunity to preach to us that cargo integrity is critical to timely clearance of cargo, once there is any infraction, time would be lost.
“I am one of those who believe that when you talk of trade, you are talking of money being tied down somewhere, the target of any trader is to turn around his investments, get profits and use it for other things.
“We are not the type that want to unnecessarily cause delays, but when there is infractions, there is nothing we can do. So, you have to ensure that the right thing is done.
“That is why I keep preaching to all the critical stakeholders that they should learn to do honest declaration, by the time you do that, you are already helping us serve you better. Let us continue to talk to our members that compliance is critical, once you do that, you can be assured that we would serve you better.”
Photo 1: (L-R): Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, Customs Area Controller, Apapa Customs Command and Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, President, APFFLON during the visit to the command Wednesday.
Photo 2: (L-R): Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, Customs Area Controller, Apapa Customs Command and Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, President, APFFLON during the visit to the command Wednesday.
Photo 3: Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, President, APFFLON (4th left) and Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, Customs Area Controller, Apapa Customs Command (5th left) and some officials of the command and the association during the visit in Wednesday.
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