“APART from the problem of poor access roads to the ports and the associated traffic gridlock, there are concerns about the several units of the Nigeria Customs Service getting involved in cargo interception and clearance processes, creating problems for importers and investors within and outside the ports.”
In a communique signed by Muda Yusuf, Director – General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LCCI], the Chamber noted that the challenges of clearing cargo at Lagos Ports had persisted due to the duplication of works by the Customs and Maritime Police.
He said that the Council of the Chamber had during its bimonthly meeting, reviewed the business environment and observes that there are too many units of the Customs getting involved in cargo clearance.
“These units include:
i. Comptroller General’s Strike Force
ii. Comptroller General’s Task Force
iii. Federal Operations Unit [FOU]
iv. Customs Intelligence Unit [CIU]
v. Comptroller General’s Monitoring Team
vi. Enforcement unit
vii. CAC squad.
“All of these are in addition to the officially approved agencies which have statutory functions for cargo examination and release.
These include Resident Customs officers of the command, NDLEA. DSS, Ports Police, Nigeria Immigration Service, NPA, NIMASA and Port Health,” he said.
Therefore, the LCCI has called for the urgent intervention of the federal government to stop the disruption that the numerous customs units are creating for importers, within and outside the ports.
“This practice is a negation of the ease of doing business agenda of the government and it is hurting investors.
“Delays leads to huge demurrage paid by importers to shipping companies and Terminal operators. It also affects the production cycle of manufacturers with implications for cost escalation” said the communique.
Role of Maritime Police in cargo clearance
“The LCCI is concerned over the role of maritime police in the clearance of cargo at Lagos Ports.
“There are reports of frequent obstruction of release of cargo by Maritime police even when the release has been duly authorized by statutory agencies charged with the responsibility of cargo examination.
“The involvement of maritime police in the cargo release process is a needless duplication, causing avoidable delays and huge demurrage payment by importers.
“Already the port police are involved in the examination and release of cargo at the ports. The frequent blocking of cargo by the maritime police is undermining the ease of doing business policy of the federal government.
Before cargoes are released DSS and Port Police, are security agencies that authorizes release of cargo. The interception of cargo by the maritime police is a contravention of the presidential Executive order on ports processes.
“The LCCI calls on the Inspector General of Police to urgently intervene to redress the situation in the interest of the Nigerian economy, ” said the DG.