From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
In a move aimed at facilitating trade and improving security and revenue through stronger checks on smuggling, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its Benin Republic counterpart have launched a trade interconnectivity.
Speaking ahead of its commencement, the Controller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), said the single window initiative affords importers and exporters the benefit of electronic trade declaration at the country of origin, which is then shared electronically by both customs platforms to facilitate processing and clearance.
NCS Assistant Comptroller General in charge of ICT, Benjamin Aber, who represented Ali at the stakeholder sensitisation programme tagged, “Nigeria-Benin Customs Connectivity for Border Seamless Transactions,” explained that any declaration made at either country will be electronically accessible to both and requires no second declaration during transit.
He assured that the system will be protected from hacking and also allayed traders’ fears of delay and disruption, adding: “Importers and exporters from both countries don’t have anything to fear.
“The system is being designed that both importers and exporters can relate with the customs of the two countries. The system is user-friendly and enables you to chat and lodge your complains at any time.”
Describing the initiative as a dream come true, the Director General of Benin Republic Customs, Sacca Boco Charles, said the initiative will reduce smuggling and facilitate trade within the both countries.
According to him, moves for the project began about 15 years ago when leaders of both countries initiated the interconnectivity system and set up the Economic Watch Committee to actualise it, with he as member.
He added that the model will draw attention to Krake/Seme borders, and serve as an example for customs administrations in other countries.
“The new mechanism is a fallout of previous meetings between Nigerian and Benin presidentsOur presidents held a meeting 15years ago in Badagry. This forum is about sharing and knowing responsibilities to improve our incomes and economies.
“We should continue as partners in building better economies for our two countries.”