In a bid to tackle the long-standing issue of port congestion due to an excessive number of overtime cargo containers, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, officially launched the “Committee on Disposal of Overtime Cargo” on November 8, 2023, at the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters in Abuja.
The formation of this committee comes in response to the new provisions of the Customs Act, which grant the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) the authority to manage the disposal of cargo containers that have exceeded their stipulated time within the ports.
Comptroller-General Adeniyi stressed that alleviating port congestion is of utmost importance to both the Nigeria Customs Service and President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, and it promises to enhance operational efficiency and trade facilitation.
He noted, “Approximately six months ago, the new NCS Act received the signature of former President Mohammed Buhari, bringing substantial changes to the previous protocols governing the disposal of overtime cargo.”
The NCS Act 2023 now mandates that the disposal of cargo that has exceeded its allotted time can only occur through a court order. Furthermore, the Act specifies that goods must be disposed of via public auction or tender, with prior publicity in national newspapers, on television, and on the service’s official website.
Welcoming the initiative, Durowaiye Ayodele, General Manager of MD’s office at the Nigerian Ports Authority, expressed relief and emphasized the challenges posed by over 7,000 overtime containers that have occupied port space for several years.
“We have containers that have been there for over ten years, occupying economic space for which we are unable to dispose. So this is a significant relief for our operations. We are delighted that we have reached a point where we can begin to remove some of these lingering containers and overdue cargo from the port,” he stated.
Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, Greg Itotoh, who is responsible for Human Resources Development, asserted that with the cooperation of the Nigerian Ports Authority, the changes and new procedures will lead to more streamlined trade operations.
The committee, responsible for managing the disposal of overtime cargo, will be chaired by a senior officer from the Nigeria Customs Service. Its membership includes representatives from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Nigerian Police Force, the Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the National Agency for Food, Drugs, and Control, a representative from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, among others.
The formation of this committee marks a significant step forward in addressing the port congestion issue and is expected to facilitate more efficient trade and cargo management.