From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has refuted claims by clearing agents operating at the Apapa Port Complex that its officials are solely responsible for the delay in release of their cargoes by arriving late to the examination bay.
Refuting the claims, however, the Command Public Relations Officer, Nkiru Nwala, noted that there are many terminals at the Apapa Port Complex, which makes the agents’ statistics ridiculous.
According to her, “the examination bays are owned by terminal operators and as custodians they position the cargo for inspection and notify the customs.
“As the examination coordinator, customs then informs those other federal agencies to assemble for inspection. This has been particularly so since the implementation of the order on the Ease of Doing Business.”
On the contrary, however, the Chapter Chairman of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Emeka Enwelu, insisted that cargo examination at Apapa port has dropped from 300 to 200 containers per day due to customs’ attitude to work.
“Customs officers come for examination around 12p.m-1p.m daily,” Enwelu said. “We have discussed so much on the need for them to come early for examination for us to get our cargoes out in good time.
“Instead, we spend a whole day on examination before coming the next day for release. That is not trade facilitation, except they can start by 10a.m as directed by the government.”
Consequently, release of cargo the same day of examination has become impossible, and agents must return the following day for their consignments, with the consequent increase in storage charges.
“If customs conducts examination and writes the report, we can get our cargoes, but when they start late they find it difficult to write the report because the whole day has already been wasted,” he added.
“If they start by 12noon, they can never cover up. They used to do 300 containers but now it is less than 200 containers per day because of the three-hour delay by customs examination officers.”