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Seaports now shadows of themselves due to forex restriction on 41 items—Top Customs Officers

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Top officials of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) servicing in two major seaports, Apapa and Tin Can Island ports have opened up saying since the imposition of forex restrictions on 41 items, activities at the ports have ebbed to the lowest record level since the construction of the ports.

Many of them who spoke to Business Hilights on grounds of anonymity said the only way activities will pick up again is when a positive review of the ban by way of excluding them from the import list is done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

A senior Customs officer at Apapa port said “As you can see, we are no more doing much when compared to how it used to be about two years ago. I know of several clearing agents who have long joined other businesses dumping their Customs clearing licences due to dwindling volume of imports in the last one year and mainly since the ban was imposed”.

Only weekend, the spokesman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said the ban on the 41 items has reduced capacity utilisation in the nation’s ports to 38 percent while productive activities had dropped by 62 percent, leading to massive job losses.

Explaining more, he submitted that the best way to revive the ports is to review the foreign exchange policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restricting forex as the ban has resulted collapse of business activities at the ports.

Another Customs officer at Tin Can corroborated his colleagues’ submissions at Apapa Command, saying “Nothing is happening in the ports in terms of cargo throughput because the 41 items were the major drive of import traffic from where the Customs make huge money for the federal government”.