ByÂ Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€” CHAIRMAN, House Committee on Customs and Excise, Mr Abdullahi Faruk, has assured that his committee would take steps to improve on the efficiency and service delivery of the Nigerian Customs.
Speaking at the end of a meeting with officers and men of the Customs in Port Harcourt, Faruk said when the Port and Harbour Bill is passed into law,Â it would help sanitise operations in Ports round the country.
Faruk who said his Committee was in Port Harcourt as part of its oversight functions, added that the Committee would ensure that Customs is effectively funded for its operations on the water ways in the Niger Delta region.
He added thatÂ there was the need to prune down prohibition list to mainly issues that constitute threat to national security, noting thatÂ the Customs would be allowed to make input when the time comes for the review.
He said his Committee had recommended a 100% pay rise in the salary of customs staff,Â which will take effect soon.
The House Committee further appealed to importers doing business at ports in the country to be sincere about their activities. He said situations where they reportedly give fake addresses for their operations would not be tolerated.
On calibration, he said it was regrettable that the Customs was still weak in this area, a situation he said was costing the nation huge financial loses.
FarukÂ promised that most of the issues raised by officers of the Custom at the meeting on how to move the body forward would form part of their deliberations when they get back to the House at Abuja.
At the meeting,Â some of the officers who spoke called on the Federal Government to set up a Staff training College for the Nigerian Customs, adding that men of the Customs should be well trained to handle calibration exercise as it will save the nation losses it currently suffers from inaccurate measurement of crude oil.
The officers also said at the moment,Â the Ports in Rivers State and several other parts of the country were underutilised and this was affecting fund generation.
They said since the water ways in Port Harcourt had been dredged, bigger vessels should be allowed into the Port.
They advised that subsequent recruitment into the Customs should emphasise on specialisation. The officers also urged government to build barracks at border stations for men of the customs and also carry out facelift on most of the Custom barracks round the country.
Chairman, Association of Nigeria Custom Licence Agents, Chief Obi Chima on his part called for harmonisation of clearing process so that the 48 hour target could be met.
He said situation where several Federal Government agencies burn energy at clearing points at the Ports was causing unnecessary delay in the clearance of good, adding that the government should dredge the Dutch Highland end of the Bonny water to allow bigger vessels sail through down to the Port Harcourt Port.