The Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi MFR, held a crucial meeting recently in Lagos with key stakeholders to address the pressing issue of clearing overtime cargoes at the port. The meeting also explored the implementation of a streamlined 48-hour customs clearance process aimed at enhancing trade facilitation.
The high-profile gathering brought together Terminal Operators, Truck Owners, Licensed Customs Agents, and other vital stakeholders within the port environment, underscoring the commitment to resolving the congestion challenge.
During the discussions, the Comptroller-General of Customs articulated the primary objective of expediting the removal of containers that have long overstayed at the port, with a focus on enhancing customs procedures and reducing the time and cost of conducting business.
He pointed out the authority granted by the Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, which empowers the NCS to take action on overtime cargoes.
The CGC stressed the indispensable role of partnership, support, understanding, collaboration, and active participation by all stakeholders to ensure the efficient clearance of containers from the ports.
Furthermore, the CGC disclosed the formation of a committee, as stipulated by the Act, to oversee the container removal process. This committee will comprise representatives from government agencies, terminal operators, and shipping lines.
“The committee will take charge of the container removal process,” he affirmed.
Additionally, the CGC unveiled strategies to address customs-related issues and procedures, including the imminent launch of the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) program, a robust risk management system, and a comprehensive time-release study scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.
Stakeholders in attendance pledged their full support to alleviate port congestion and the burden of overtime cargoes.
Gerald Mbamalu, representing ICP Bonded Terminal, called for government intervention in enhancing road infrastructure to ensure seamless truck movement in and out of the ports.
Tunde Keshinro, a Terminal Operator, highlighted that the challenges linked to overtime cargoes revolve around various processes, such as their location and associated costs and charges.
He proposed a more efficient approach that includes disposing of the cargo at their current location, streamlining processes, and expediting necessary steps.
In pursuit of the 48-hour clearance goal, the Vice President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Hon. Princess Chi Eze, encouraged the CGC to maximize the use of scanners at Apapa Port.
In response, the Zonal Coordinator of Zone A, ACG Bello Jibo, affirmed the NCS’s commitment to overseeing the effective utilization of scanners by regularly inspecting the ports and terminals.
The meeting concluded with a sense of unity and determination to address port congestion and ensure a smoother cargo clearance process.