Customs threatens to shut non-trade-compliant port terminals

Two months to the end of the extended Destination Inspection contract, the Nigeria Customs Service has said it will close down any port terminal caught in activities that hamper trade facilitation in the country.

Barring any further extension, the DI contract will end in November this year after which the service will inherit the assets of the four service providers contracted by the Federal Government in 2006 and also take over every aspect of cargo clearing at the nation’s seaports and land borders including scanning services currently handled by these service providers.

Comptroller General of the service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, who spoke at a one-day stakeholders forum to sensitise them on the introduction of the Nigerian Trade Hub also called the ‘The Ruling Centre’ in Lagos yesterday, took a swipe at shipping companies and some terminal operators for the delay in clearing cargo at the nation’s seaports.

The Trade Hub, which is designed to facilitate trade, will also see to the introduction of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) to replace the current Risk Assessment Report (RAR), an advisory note issued by the service providers under the DI contract on the risk level associated with any imported consignment into the country.

According to the CG, efforts made by the service to transform Nigeria’s imported goods clearing processes have been thwarted by the activities of the shipping companies and some terminal operators, who he accused of not having sufficient plants and cargo handling equipment that would facilitate speedy goods delivery.

He said, “Shipping companies and terminal operators are the greatest problem of cargo clearing in Nigeria. I will go to the highest authority to get approval to fight them. If they are Nigerian companies, we penalise them while the foreign ones among them will be deported”

He also advised the Federal Government to take a cue from what some of the indigenous companies are doing under the current port concession pprogramme and give more concessions to the indigenously owned, arguing that the foreign firms fuel capital flight.

While reacting to complaints on the alleged excesses of some Customs officers posted from the headquarters in Abuja popularly called ‘CG Boys’, who have also refused to take instructions from the area controllers of their commands, the customs-boss, who was rumoured to have been sacked denied any knowledge of such boys.

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