Clearing agents operating at the nation’s seaports have called on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to invoke the bill of sight in the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA) to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the maritime industry.
Speaking, the Vice President of the Association of the Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Kayode Farinto stated that the failure of the service to invoke section 28 and 29 of the Customs Excise and Management Act which gives Customs the power to invoke the ‘Bill of Sight’ could spread the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.
He said the Bill of Sight will help reduce human contacts which may lead to the outspread of the pandemic in the maritime industry and the entire country at large.
Farinto said despite letters written to the Secretary-General of the Federation and the Minister of Transportation, the customs CG has failed to invoke the law to curb spread of the pandemic.
According to him, “If there is an outbreak of Covid-19 in the maritime industry, the NCS should be held responsible, we are in a period of war and we suggested that let us invoke sections 28 and 29 of the CEMA law which let us use Bill of Sight.
“And what is bill of sight? It means If this man is an importer he has a bill of lading he may not need to go through the process of obtaining a PAAR or Form M, he can go to wherever his cargo is and position his cargo for examination, the valuation unit and all the various unit will look at the examination and the valuation unit will give him a duty to go and pay after which he can pick his cargoes out of the ports
“The reason that is important at this period is because it reduces human contact and will also reduce the number of intervention from customs unit. We get alert from the Nigeria customs controller office, we get alert from the valuation department, alert from CIU alert from Abuja and alert from Post Clearance Audit (PCA). That is about seven alerts on one cargo and if we are able to achieve this all these will stop.
All we need to do is to invoke that section of the law which is already there based on the fact that we are in a pandemic period.
“Nobody should do any documentation so as to reduce human contact, a committee can be set up which can be called Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee at every command level that may comprise the valuation, the CPC and the gate officer and once the committee treat that job nobody touches the consignment again, but we don’t have that now because customs still believe they are pursuing target given to them by the federal government forgetting we are having a pandemic at hand.
And, that’s why I said if there is an outbreak of coronavirus in the maritime industry they should be held responsible because every other department had actually keyed into this except customs.
“We have sent a letter to the SGF, Boss Mustapha that this particular section should be invoked as I talk to you nothing has been done about it, we have sent letters to the minister of Transportation and up till now nothing has been done about it.”
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