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Lack of punctuality  by Customs hampers clearing process at Apapa port – Customs Brokers


ABIOLA Seun     |       

Customs brokers plying their trade at the Apapa port have condemned Customs officers at the Apapa command for what they described as their habitual late-coming to their duty post, an action they alleged has considerably slowed down the process of goods clearance at the port.

Recall that at an industry event, a representative of the Vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo from the Presidential Enabling Business Executive Council (PEBEC) , Mr John Oboh accused customs officers of not coming to office on time for examination of cargoes.

He had said” on joint physical examination of goods at the ports, the problem has been that some customs officers do not come to the office in time”.

He claimed that while examination is supposed to be around 12noon, the exercise does not start till between 1 and 2pm due to the lateness of Customs officers to their duty post.

Corroborating this assertion, the Apapa chapter Chairman of the National Council of Managing Director of Licenced Customs Agent (NCMDLCA), Emeka Enwelu said that number of containers examined daily have dropped from 300 to 200 daily due to lateness of Apapa Customs officers to examination bays. 

According to him, examination of cargoes at Apapa has gone down from 300 containers per day to 200 containers due to the attitude to work by the officers.

He said, “Customs officers come for examination around 12pm- 1pm daily. That is their actual time they use to come for examination and we have severally complained on that issue so much time and for them to come early for examination to know what to be done and to get our cargoes out in good time but we spend a whole day on examination before we come the following day for release.


“It is not trade facilitation but if they can meet up by 10am as advised by the government. 

Enwelu further stated that because of the delay experienced, clearing agents find it difficult to examine and release goods on the same day. 

He said agents are forced to comeback the following day for the release of their consignment thereby causing increase in storage charges. 

“If Customs conduct examination and write the report, we can get our cargoes  but when they start late,  they find it difficult to write the report because it will be late and the whole day has already been wasted. 

“If they start by 12, there is no way they can cover up because before, they used to do 300 containers but now, they do less than 200 containers in a day because of the three hours delay experienced which is caused by customs examination officers.”

Another clearing agent, Chijioke Ebuka however urged the federal government to ensure that customs adhere strictly to the implementation of the executive order.

He also stated that delay experienced at the examination bays, affect the number of cargoes to be released daily. 

“The delay is part of the vision of PEBEC but the Apapa Customs officers are making the gains disappear. We want officers to come in good time so that goods can be released same day after examination.”

He alleged that customs had written to be exempted from executive order but he said customs cannot be bigger than the country.

“I learnt customs has written to be exempted from Executive order but they can’t be bigger than the law of the land because they are creation of the law,” Chijioke concluded. 

However, the Command Public Relations Officer, Nkiru Nwala, stated that the examination bays are not owned by the customs but the terminal operators, just as there are other federal agencies involved in the cargo examination process.

According to her, “as the custodians of the examination bays, the terminal operators position the cargo for inspection and notifies the customs, which in turn informs other relevant agencies to assemble for examination.  

 “This has been particularly so since the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business at the Ports, which empowered customs to coordinate the other examining agencies.”

Nwala explained that there are many terminals in the Apapa Port Complex, wondering how the agents came about the statistics being bandied that released containers dropped from about 300 to 200 allegedly because customs officials do not arrive early for inspection.


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