Maritime stakeholders’, FG seek better SOP for clearing charitable cargoes at ports
Rising from a one-day workshop on ‘Stakeholders’ Consultation on Ease of Shipping and Clearing of Charitable Items into Nigeria’, participants have called for an error-free Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to avoid either security lapses or undue delays that give rise to demurrages’.
Before now, there had been cases of abuse of rules and regulations guiding clearance of cargoes meant for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other charity organisation, which ordinarily should be on duty waiver.
Investigations have shown that whereas there are some charitable cargoes or items that are allowed to overstay due to issues from delayed arrival of official clearance for duty waiver, there are also many charitable items or cargoes that under full examination were discovered to be non-charitable items.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, represented by a Deputy Director in the Ministry, Mr Victor Ewaje, said “Government believes in the capability of industry stakeholders in finding a lasting solution that will not expose our country to security risks or cause pains on international or local donor agencies’ in bringing in their items specifically meant to provide humanitarian assistance to Nigerians.
The Minister made it clear that charitable items must follow the due process of SOP that are explicit at all times, stressing that SOP for charitable cargoes at ports must be made to be unambiguous to avoid criminals relying on its weakness to bring in contraband or materials they should have paid duty.
Concluding, he thanked the management of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) for collaborating with the Office of the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege to organise the stakeholders’ workshop.
Earlier in his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Barr Hassan Bello, reiterated the existing practice of the Council to always consult stakeholders on critical issues in the industry, saying the has helped Shippers’ Council to achieve a lot in the industry.
Continuing, he called for the need for the streamlining of the regulation and legislation controlling the clearance procedures of all charitable cargoes and items at the ports.
In his speech, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agage, represented by her aide, Princess Modupe Ozolua, said the intent of the workshop is to get stakeholders input so as to be well guided in the review of the SOP in clearing charitable cargoes which according to international standards, are duty free.
Also speaking, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health and Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs, Senator Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe said with his 20 experience in international NGO activities, it is always painful when poor handling of charitable cargoes leads to delays which will further translate to loss of lives of those intended to use the items being imported.
He assured that the Senate will harmonise views raised and consider all in the review of the SOP in clearing charitable items at Nigerian ports.
Business Hilights reports that all maritime industry stakeholders’ attended the workshop held at Golden Tulip Hotels, FESTAC on Thursday, 27 February 2020.
Whereas the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) was represented by the ACG, Zone A, Mrs. Kathleen Ekekezie, NPA was represented by the Apapa Port Manager, Mrs. Olotu.