No fewer than 5,000 containers have been cleared illegally through abuse of fast track cargo clearance scheme at the seaports in Lagos.
Fast track scheme was introduced by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to facilitate quick delivery of raw materials and other items meant for the manufacturing companies.
The Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir, on Monday in Lagos, said that the containers were cleared from Apapa without proper checks.
He said that examination was only conducted on the containers after they had arrived safely at the owners’ warehouses.
He said: “Approximately between 5,000 and 6,000 containers are moved out of this port without any examination in the port. The examination is being done at the owners’ premises because of the Ease of Doing Business introduced by the government. Apart from the agents and importers defaulting, Customs officers also default, some officers released cargoes even before they reach the port.”
Because of this, he said that cargoes from certain companies and certain routes across the globe were being monitored by the Federal Government.
However, a member of the International Freight Forwarding Association (IFFA), Mr. Solomon Anyanwu, had complained at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos that the fast track system was no longer achieving the purpose for which it was set up.
He said that there was nothing that made it a fast track scheme as it takes a lot of days to complete goods examination.
Nevertheless, Bashir said that the delay may not be unconnected with importers not properly completing their clearance processes.
He said: “I disagree that the fast track scheme is not swift. Once you are allowed to take your cargo from the sea, all you need to do is to pay your duties and perform the necessary things you are supposed pay, after which your goods would be released to you without any delay.”
The area comptroller said that he would not take it easy with anybody involved in delaying any cargo.
Bashir charged stakeholders affected by deliberate delay to bring such case to him.
Also, Chairman of Ethics, Complaints and Discipline of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Mr. Onyeka Job, complained about the consistent breakdown of customs server at the port.
“The issue of system breakdown is too much in this command. Every day we experience it, so the system should be upgraded,” he said.
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