27 June 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Licensed Customs Agents and government agencies operating at the Lagos ports have traded blames over the delays in cargo clearance and frustration of the government’s ‘ease of doing business’ initiative.
An unscheduled visit to the Port Terminal Multi-purpose Limited, PTML in Apapa Lagos by officials of the Customs Headquarters Public Relations Unit, showed that some government operatives scheduled to carry out examination exercise on containers and other cargoes were not at their duty post as at 11 a.
The appraisal visit followed some media reports blaming examination delays on Customs.
Speaking to Vanguard on the development, Mr. Owolabi Abiodun and Adekunle Oladejo, both clearing agents exonerated customs of blames over delays in cargo clearance as was visibly seen, customs officers were at the examination areas ahead of the time.
Adekunle Oladejo a staff Interlog Agencies Limited told journalists and the visiting team that customs officers are always on ground for examination while the agents have to wait.
Oladejo consignment, which consists of liquid chemicals were already positioned for examination by 11 am while no other government agency aside customs was ready
Owolabi Abiodun of Royal Crown Shipping Company blamed the persistent rain for delays in examination of perishable chemicals in bags.
He added that customs officers were always ready for examination.
An operative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ali Ocheni who arrived at about 11:40 am to examination venue admitted his lateness and blamed it on another assignment he had to attend.
Ocheni, a Superintendent of Narcotics also blamed agents for causing delays by not being ready for examination citing bad roads and terminal operator slowness as excuses.
He disclosed that he has been in the ports environments for three years and that customs have always invited NDLEA for joint examination.
Comptroller, Florence Dixon who just assumed duty as the Customs Area Controller of the command, reiterated customs commitment to trade facilitation, revenue collection without compromising national security.
Dixon said “I will work to bring everyone together to comply with the government directive on ease of doing business.
“I believe in punctuality and acting promptly. No time wasting and I believe the time is money. Customs has been long in trade facilitation”
From there, the team went to the busiest terminal B1 in Tincan port where agencies of government and licensed customs agents also affirmed that other factors, not customs were responsible for delays.
Dr. Anzaku Peters, an Assistant Chief Regulatory Officer with the NAFDAC commended the service and disclosed that NAFDAC is now keyed into NICIS 2.
Abdulrahman Jimoh Abdulwahab, a manager with TICT said his company positions containers based on agents request.
He blamed agents for not perfecting their documentation with customs before booking for positioning of their containers thereby making it impossible for prompt examination.