- Tasks terminal operators on provision of modern equipment for cargo handling
(Report by Udeme Clement):
The Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, has applauded the Customs Area Controller (CAC), of Apapa Command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, for taking pragmatic steps to address complaints on inefficiency of bonded terminal operators in handling containers.
Dr. Aniebonam, a reputable stakeholder in the maritime industry, also commended efforts by Comptroller Malanta, in trying to eliminate human elements causing bottlenecks in the system. This, he said, will pave the way for collection of appropriate revenue and trade facilitation in line with global best practice.
The NAGAFF Founder, gave these details in a document signed and made available to maritime reporters.
Dr Aniebonam, explained that lading containers outside the mother ports fast tracks the process, even as it reduces demurrages often associated with delay in the ports.
According to him, when looking at port reforms, the whole concept is to fast track operations, in order to increase competitiveness, as well as efficiency in doing business in the nation’s ports. He expressed displeasure that the whole concept is being defeated by what he described as partial compliant attitude of most terminal operators, who lack modern equipment for cargo handling.
He pointed out: “It is quite glaring that breaches the terms of licensing regulations resulted in grave dangers to revenue collection for the Federal Government and security in the State. Most worrisome is exposure of Customs officers in such terminals to angry practitioners, who believe that Customs are not addressing incompetences of terminal operators in handling containers”.
He frowned that avoidable consequences of improper Customs examination resulting from inavailability of adequate equipment for cargo handling at such terminals had pitched freight forwarders against intervention Units of Customs along the city roads and federal highways.
Under the circumstance, we commend the Controller of Apapa Customs Command, for taking strategic actions to call the terminal operators to order. It is our hope that other Customs Area Commands at various seaports should take responsibility to ensure uniformity in enforcing regulations.
His words: “At present, it is to our knowledge that the Apapa CAC, has stopped any transfer of cargo to affected terminals. The CAC also threatened to invoke section 11 of Customs laws dealing on matters of obstruction of lawful duty of an officer of the service in the ports.
This means the Service may decide to take its actions from the criminal point of view and that may be terrible”,
In the same vein, Dr Aniebonam asserted: “The consequences of false declaration for Customs purposes became exposed through intervention of Customs Units on city roads. All these would have been avoided and saved freight forwarders the pain of double handling of goods cleared out of Customs control.
“The presence of Federal Operations Unit (FOU), CGC Strike-force and Customs-Police on our roads will continue to be felt, as long as cases of improper cargo examination persist.”
He went on: “The NAGAFF 100 percent Compliance Team is really grateful to the Controller of Apapa Command, as freight forwarders are beginning to appreciate the need for total compliance with government fiscal policies and international trade regulations at seaports. There is nothing difficult in doing business with the Customs, if only practitioners can see reasons to make honest declarations for Customs purposes.
“NAGAFF is urging freight forwarders to follow the standard operating procedures in doing business with the Customs and other related government agencies assigned for ports operations. Let us learn to approach equity with clean hands, so that NAGAFF can defend its members boldly before the government authorities at all times”.
On lack of operating equipment and inefficiency by some bonded terminals, he advised; “terminal operators should provide adequate equipment for cargo handling, to ensure proper examination of containers”.