Abiola Seun |
The National President, Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Nwabunike said the Presidential directive on ease of doing business has failed.
In an interview with newsmen in Lagos, the president said because of that, 24 hours cargo clearance has become a mirage in the country.
According to him, despite the FG’s executive order, there is still a proliferation of government agencies at the seaports.
He said, “The federal government finds it very difficult to reduce number of agencies in the ports. Even the ones there always find ways of segmenting themselves into units thereby making 24-hour cargo clearance difficult.”
“Also, Ease of Doing Business has not been halfway implemented. The federal government through the office of Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo has promoted this but the impact has not been felt at the ports.
It has not worked well because we have not been able to achieve 24 hours clearance of goods in our ports.
As things stand, attaining 24-hour port operation in Nigeria is a mirage, I must say.
Nwabunike also lamented over the Apapa traffic gridlock which he said has locked down evacuation of cargoes at the Lagos seaport.
“The gridlock came worse last year and seriously affected movements of goods, people and services in our ports. These problems remain unsolved despite the appointment of various federal government task forces and presidential task force on the same issue. The problem is lingering and can be said to be worse now”.
Speaking on the border closure, he said, “it is not about the closure of some Nigerian border posts. In actual fact, the closure of borders is an indictment on the government agencies at the border post including freight forwarders and customs brokers because what we are talking about is approved border posts. We can have unapproved border areas remain closed. In as much that we actually supported the closure of borders, we must look into why the porosity of the border, considering issues like who is supposed to man the post first and what is the relationship between Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. We have to also look at the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Trade, Liberalisation scheme and presently, African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
Majority of our members operating at the borders say their imports have always been for genuine goods because they use approved border stations. Our members at the border posts claimed that it should be the responsibility of government security agencies to prevent unlawful movements and smuggling across our borders, not outright closure. We urge government to allow a month or two months window of opportunity for trapped goods that are lying on both sides of affected border posts, asses them for maximum duty payments and allow them proceed.
Our border posts members and professional colleagues there are not happy despite the fact we supported the government on the border closure,” he said.
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