Nigeria Customs, Stakeholders Deliberate on Port Decongestion, 48-Hour Cargo Clearance
By Ebenezer William
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi MFR, on Monday, 6 November 2023, in Lagos, convened a meeting with stakeholders to address the urgent need for the evacuation of overtime cargoes at the port. Additionally, they discussed implementing a 48-hour Customs clearance process to facilitate trade.
The CGC engaged in productive discussions with Terminal Operators, Truck Owners, Licensed Customs Agents, and other essential stakeholders within the Port environment.
During the event, the CGC expressed the mission to the government’s goal of decongesting the port by expediting the removal of containers that have lingered for an extended period. He says, “The objective is to enhance customs procedures, ultimately reducing both time and the cost of conducting business.”
He highlighted the authority granted by the Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, allowing the NCS to remove overtime cargoes from the port. The CGC emphasized the importance of partnership, support, understanding, collaboration, and participation from all stakeholders to successfully clear the containers from the Ports.
He also announced the formation of a committee, as specified by the Act, which will include government agencies, representatives from terminal operators and shipping lines. “This committee will manage the process of removing containers from the port.” He stated
The CGC revealed that the NCS has implemented strategies to address issues related to Customs processes and procedures. These strategies include the plan to launch the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) program, a robust risk management system, and a time-release study scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.
Stakeholders at the event pledged their support to alleviate the Ports from the burden of overtime cargoes. Gerald Mbamalu, representing ICP Bonded Terminal, called for government intervention to improve the road infrastructure, ensuring the smooth movement of trucks in and out of the Ports.
Tunde Keshinro, a Terminal Operator, emphasized that the challenges associated with overtime cargoes revolve around processes, including issues related to their location and the associated costs and charges.
He suggested that it would be more efficient to dispose of the cargo at their current location, streamlining the process and expediting the necessary steps.
To achieve the goal of a 48-hour clearance process, the Vice President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Hon. Princess Chi Eze, urged the CGC to maximize the use of scanners at Apapa Port.
In response, the Zonal Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Bello Jibo, stated that NCS is committed to monitoring the effective utilization of scanners by regularly visiting the Ports and Terminals.