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Importers, regulators, operators trade blames on challenges of cargo examination

It was fireworks Thursday as regulatory agencies, terminal operators and importers have continued to trade blames on who is really creating clearing confusion at the ports.

Whereas government agencies and terminal operators jointly see importers and clearing agents as the culprits, importers and manufacturers argue that the height of corruption in the port system has grown to unquantifiable level over the years till now.

Importers and clearing agents are of the view that multiple agencies and physical cargo examinations waste time and are reportedly responsible for the high cost of doing business in Nigerian ports.

In a cross-fire format, regulators and operators see some importers as dubious and this makes Customs officials and other security agencies to suspect any cargo they bring into the country.

The Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), had severally argued that “One of the challenges we have at the ports right now is high level of physical examination of cargo where containers are opened and cargo examined one after the other by the Customs.

“They are doing this because Nigerian importers are dishonest. They short-change the system by importing without making proper declaration and importing what they should not import.

 “They are not helping government to realise its fiscal objective and because of that, the Nigeria Customs Service has become very suspicious and wants to check everything thoroughly.”

Also, the Director, Ports Inspection Directorate, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Mrs. Maureen Ebigbeyi, corroborated STOAN’s viewpoint as a reality considering the volume of infractions so far observed in physical examinations at ports.

She said that in the process of inspecting containers carrying regulated products at the ports, agents had stumbled on false declaration and forged documents by importers.

 “The level of false declaration that we see at the ports is amazing. At one time, 13 containers carrying wrong strength and dosage of drugs arrived in Port Harcourt under the guise of clothing materials.

 “I have seen manifest from the Nigerian Ports Authority that has been doctored. Manifest from the shipping line stating something different from what is in the container.”