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Customs, agents bicker over failed trade facilitation platform at Tin can Port

Maggpiy Trading sues Customs

Segun Oladipupo   |

The recent facility for easy clearance of cargo and operations at the Tincan Island command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has crashed.

Freight forwarders and customs brokers at the command who spoke with our correspondent at different locations unanimously said that the platform was dead on arrival.

The platform was the brain child of the Controller if the command, Comptroller MBA Musa to facilitate trade and to eschew the perennial clog of cargoes in the port.

But stakeholders have said the platform has failed to achieve its set goal as alerts are still being received by clearing agents after cargo clearance, therefore arguing that the essence of the platform is defeated.

According some of the freight agents who spoke with this medium, valuation, CPC, ICU, CAC monitoring and compliance team also give alerts to cargoes cleared in the port.

Segun Alabi, the president, Advocacy for Maritime Development Association of Nigeria said the initiative was a stillborn, saying it did not achieve its objective.

He challenged the Service to show the template, the formality, the working process of the one stop shop, adding that it still boils down to the way things are done.

“It has died even before the man said it. Don’t let us deceive ourselves, I was a former Public Relations Officer of ANLCA in Tincan here under the interim government of Chief Oye Ariyo

“We sat and said we were not going to accept the alerts, I think Comptroller Olanrewaju was the Controller then and we had a meeting with him and we had an understanding that if there was a valuation alert on a job, other alternative should be cancelled.

“Even if other alerts are on the system, as long as you have answered one, it automatically cancels others and the man agreed in order to facilitate easy exit of cargo and easy operations.

“It does not make sense if valuation holds you and you go to ICU, CPC and others like that for the same alert and it worked for about six months that he was there.

“You see one stop shop means fast track,easy service but are we getting that? Let them show us the template, the formality, the working process of the one stop shop. It still boils down to the way things are done.

“The one stop shop does not mean that you will not answer query, you will answer multiple queries.

.”So, what is one stop shop?

Responding to the allegations, the Public Relations Officer of the command, Uche Ejesieme, a Superintendent of Customs (SC) said the purpose for which the platform was created was to facilitate trade.

According to him, what would have been the basis of wasting money to create such a platform if the command does not have genuine intentions to operate the platform

He dismissed the allegation that the system collapsed because the operatives if the Service were bent on extorting agents and their principals through incessant alerts.

Uche however did not state the cause of the crash of the system even as he added that it was a work in progress saying that the command was working to bring the system back into operations.

His words, “The CAC in his wisdom as a way of practically facilitating trade, muted the idea but somewhere along the line for inexplicable reason, the thing was not working at the level we expect

“Those reasons certainly are not the faults of the Service but I don’t want to apportion blames.

“If people say it is because customs wants to collect here and there, why did we waste facilities creating the platform if we don’t have genuine intentions

“It is a work in progress, yesterday, we had a meeting with our stakeholders, we still looking at what we can do to bring it back, so it is a work in progress,” he maintained.

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