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Customs CG, Hameed-Ali

Manual cargo examination by Customs worst drawback in a 21st century economy

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In as much as issues of port inefficiency are still linked to matters of  poor port access roads, overtime goods and lack of multi-modal transportation, the issue of manual cargo examination by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), remains the worst hiccup to Nigerian maritime business.

This was the position of the chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup.

Speaking recently at the 2019 Annual Stakeholders’ Appreciation Night, in Lagos, she identified manual clearing processes as a major issue hindering the efficiency of the ports.

According to her, “The scanners at the port are not working, while almost all the cargoes landed at our ports are subjected to 100 percent physical examination.

“This certainly slows down the cargo delivery process, and increases the cost of doing business. We urge the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, work on automating Customs processes at our ports, and installing functional scanners to reduce manual clearing processes.

Princess Haastrup averred that “Automation and scanning will reduce human contacts at the port and cut down on the use of discretionary powers by government officials. This will in turn reduce the cost of doing business at the port and boost government revenue.”

Explaining more on the preponderance of overtime cargoes at the port, the STOAN Chairman appealed to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to expedite action in auctioning the goods as provided in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA). Space, she said, is vital at every port, and “a situation where overtime cargoes are allowed to take up substantial space at the port is not healthy enough.

In her submission, she added that “Customs is empowered by law to auction overtime cargoes so as to free up space in the port, and also recover government revenue. Not auctioning those cargoes that have been in the port for more than a year does not serve the best interest of government and of the operator. I therefore wish to appeal to the Nigeria Customs Service to free up the space in the port by auctioning those overtime or unclaimed goods,” she added.

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