01 February 2014, Lagos – Freight forwarders at Lilypond Container Terminal, Ijora, Lagos on Tuesday called for the establishment of a regulatory body to reduce the number of government agencies at the port.
Mr Emmanuel Agubanze, Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Lilypond chapter, told the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) that a regulatory body would go a long way towards to making transaction easier and cheaper.
“It is unfortunate that there is no regulatory body to see that these (government) directives are being carried out.
“As I talk with you now most of them are drifting back unlawfully creating unnecessary bottlenecks.
“Quarantine is right now battling with us every day. It is an issue. Quarantine man says that here is now their command.
“That they are going to be domicile; that they are going to be resident here.
“And we said, ‘bring the directive that has brought you back here’.
“The directive they brought was the one by the Minister of Finance that they should come from time to time.
“The one written by the Comptroller-General of Customs said ‘when the need arises’.
“The one written by another authority said ‘on request basis’.
“But they have undermined all these things and are imposing themselves. Very many of them are loitering around.’’
Agubanze noted that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Abdullahi Dikko, had designed a single window through the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).
He said that PAAR enabled every government agency to relate with cargo clearance procedure to access customs operation through the single window.
He said that NAFDAC officials go into the window to see any job that was related to them and process it without being physically present except if the cargo had a query.
“What the NAFDAC people do is they go into this single window and see any job that relates to them and if there is no proper documentation they will say, ‘do not release this job untill we are invited’.
“But the quarantine people have refused to do that because they are lazy or they don’t know what to do.
“All they feel are that they want to come and sit down here and begin to monitor every job.
“We said ‘no, these days we are law-abiding citizens and we should comply with the rules and regulations that had been spelt out by the government”.
He added that if the order was enforced effectively, business activities would boom and government would generate more funds.
NAN reports that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Head of the Economic Management Team, in 2013 ordered that government agencies in the ports should be pruned down from 14 to four.
Among those ordered to leave the port was National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Okonjo-Iweala said then that the aim was to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports as well as to eliminate delays caused by the multiple government agencies at the ports.