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Freight agents, Customs bicker over delay in scanner installation

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Segun Oladipupo

Freight agents under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have expressed dissatisfaction over delay in installation of the newly procured scanners by the management of the Nigeria Customs Service, saying the nation’s maritime sector is the only country in the world where cargoes are subjected to manual examinations.

National President of the association, Chief Tony Iju Nwabunike who decried the situation, also lamented that Nigeria is not ready to solve most of its challenges for obvious reasons.

He made the comments at the maiden edition of the Port Industry Town Hall Meeting organised by the Journaling.

According to him, smaller neighbouring countries have developed their ports, mainly for cargoes into Nigeria, pointing out that the seaports were running without dependable port procedures and having no roads to terminals in Lagos, Onne and other ports.

Nwabunike who was the pioneer Chairman, Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) described the nation’s seaports as the worst in world saying, “As a way of helping the government, who seems helpless in the face of obvious non compliance across board, private sector groups in the port have established compliance teams and this point to our collective inadequacy.

Speaking on the deplorable road condition, Nwabunike who also chaired the Town Hall Meeting,called on the Federal Government to declare the  maritime industry as  national emergency where, during dry season construction work should be done 24 hours nonstop, especially on the Apapa- Oshodi axis.

“I don’t want to say our port system is about the worst in the maritime world. Sadly, that is what it is looking like in terms of shipping companies and customs operations.

Nwabunike said, “We are nowhere near our peers to maximize the benefits of our port system for this single African trade regime.

“The earlier we act fast, the better because under the regime countries will see themselves as rivals and competitors in certain economic fronts. Nigeria must not be caught sleeping.

“Nigeria is the only country I know in the world where cargoes are subjected to joint manual and very cumbersome examination process and as an importer or customs broker, you are subjected to multiple alerts by different customs units.

“I don’t want to say our port system is about the worst in the maritime world. Sadly, that is what it is looking like in terms of shipping companies and customs operations.”he stressed.

In a swift reaction, Comptroller, Tin Can Island Port Command, Nigeria Customs Service, MBA Musa explained that the scanners were yet to be installed because they were subjected to assessment test.

Comptroller Musa was represented by Deputy Comptroller, Kikelomo Adeola.

According to the Area Comptroller, the service had reaffirmed its commitment for smooth port operations, adding that the scanners would soon commence operations as soon as the assessment test is concluded.

The Customs boss disclosed that the service will also deployed drones to monitor movement of cargoes within the ports.

Earlier, Publisher of the JournalNg, Mallam Ismail Aniemu noted that the Town Hall Meeting was aimed at addressing challenges confronting the maritime industry.

The Town Hall Meeting has as theme “Towards Hitch Free Port Operations In Nigeria”

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