A paltry N474.5 million revenue in March 2017 at the Seme Border Command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) indicates that the recent total ban on vehicle and rice importation through the land borders is being well enforced, as both constitute the command’s major sources of revenue.
However, this has become a cause for concern for the NCS Seme Border Command and other stakeholders at the land border, which links to other West African countries and is noted for its busy vehicular and human traffic, as business is now reportedly at its lowest ebb in the area.
According to the Command Public Relations Officer, Mr. Taupyen Selchang, the NCS is worried about the command’s worsening revenue profile just as the Atlas Park is now empty safe for some broken down/empty trucks.
Speaking on behalf of the stakeholders, the Seme Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. Lasisi Fanu, blamed the low economic activities on the over 150 per cent tariff increase on imports along the corridor.
He described such tariff as unfavourable to importers, stating that it was why some importers have changed trade route, while smuggling continues to increase. Also of concern is “the current economic recession occasioned by the Naira’s low exchange rate, which affected importation of general goods,” he said.
Another contributory factor to the area’s low revenue fortunes was the annual China break that usually takes place from January to February, Fanu noted, stating that the situation does not only affect the command’s revenue drive but also the entire association, rendering most members redundant.
According to him, economic activities started slowing down last month after the backlog of goods at the Atlas Park since December 2016 had been cleared. The empty park indicates that there were no importations through the land border as at the time the customs’ team visited.
Selchang, who said the command made only 62 seizures with a Duty Paid Value of N25,748,264.00 in March, disclosed that the challenge still persists. However, he said that Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu was already consulting with critical stakeholders on possible solutions to the ugly trend.
While seeking ways to shore up the command’s revenue, however, Mohammed has warned all units at the point of entry/exit to facilitate legitimate trade across the frontier, insisting that conducts found inimical to the ideals of the service would be punished accordingly.
Therefore, he tasked officers to be professional in the performance of their core functions, and to create a conducive and enabling working environment to ease business transaction among stakeholders at the international land border.