04 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The clearance of consignments under the fast track scheme may have suffered major setbacks at the seaports in Lagos, following alleged frustration by officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service on escort rosters.
Operators have lamented that 24 hours port operations would be impossible if the practice persists stressing the need for customs officials on escort duty to be present for fast track consignments to exit the port as at when due.
They alleged that customs officials demand monies from shippers and freight agents before attempting to escort consignments out of the ports.
Fast track otherwise known as customs fast delivery is the process whereby consignments belonging to multinational companies are allowed to exit the ports without examination until the items get to their warehouses.
The essence of fast track is to avoid ports congestion and to also aid speedy clearance of goods from the ports.
The process also deals with a high volume of consignments owned by multinationals and are usually routed on the green lanes at the ports and customs escorts are required accompany the goods to the required destination.
Confirming the development to our correspondent in Lagos, yesterday, Chairman and Managing Director, Bonntex Logistics Integrated Global Limited, Chief Boniface Okoye lamented that the attitude of customs officials designated for escort has truncated trade facilitation overtime.
Okoye alleged that the process to assign an escort to fast track consignments has become cumbersome leading to extra charges at the expense of the shippers.
According to him, the escort officials determined the exit of the consignments, saying that they (escort) decides when and time to discharge their responsibilities.
The stalwart of National Council of Managing Director Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) called on the Controller General of the service to save the plights of shippers and freight agents, adding that the delay leads to the additional cost of doing business in Nigerian seaports.
He alleged that the Customs collect N1000 per container adding that most consignments under fast track are always in high volumes.
“If you want to clear about 30 containers at a stretch under fast track, the customs will charge N1000 each before they will decide on the date to storm the port”
“The Customs are not organised in their operations because as it, the Post Audit, Federal Operations Units and Customs Intelligent Units (CIU) are not harmonised in the line of duty”, he added.
“We are calling on the Customs Comptroller General to intervene and address this issue once and for all”
The freight agents noted that 24 hours ports operations and that of customs e-clearance operations of goods from the port would be unachievable if it personnel continues to take their responsibilities for granted.
Similarly, an importer who prefers anonymity disclosed that the nonchalant attitude of the customs indirectly affects production of the multinational companies.
According to him, some raw materials stay in the ports for a long time due to the absence of customs officials who should be accompanied the consignments to their respective warehouses.
The lamented that some manufacturing companies are worried about the delay of their cargoes to the factories, noting that the service has been responsible for the delay.
He explained that the fast track process was useless following the lacklustre attitude of personnel assigned to discharge such duties.