By Ifeyinwa Obi
THE Ogun State Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have achieved an outstanding feat in streamlining the period for clearing cargoes through the Idiroko Border Post, keeping this under an hour.
This is a great improvement on the previous time-frame of about one week it usually took to complete the process of taking imports out of the Command, which links Nigeria with Benin Republic, to other West African countries, and further afield.
Checks at the Command revealed that most consignments, especially vehicles, bearing correct declarations through self-assessment by importers or agents for payment of import duties, are promptly processed by the Customs personnel through the Automated System for Customs Data Plus-Plus (ASYCUDA++).
It was gathered that, once a particular cargo has been valued, scanned and the correct import duties recorded as having been paid on the consignment, and where no discrepancies are detected during the examination process, the cargo is then immediately released to the consignee or the agent.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Ogun State Command, Comptroller Ade Dosunmu, explained that the effective use of ASYCUDA++ and the cargo scanning machine facilitated the improvements recorded in goods clearance at the Command.
Idiroko Border Post, according to Dosunmu, is the only one out of similar outposts in Nigeria, where you can make your correct self-assessment and have your documents processed, for the clearing of your goods within an hour.
The CAC posited that the encouragement given the personnel by the Command since his assumption of office as the CAC served as an impetus for them to be more committed and effective in doing their jobs. He said they have justified the increases in their salaries and improvements in their welfare, as well as other incentives, by the Comptroller- General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi.
Dosunmu said the fact that he has keyed into the seven- point agenda of the Customs chief has made it possible for him to ensure that the Command’s operations were carried out at a faster pace, to encourage more importers to use the border post and thus increase the revenue accruing to the Federal Government from imports.
The CAC assured that, once an agent or importer does the self assessment correctly at the Idiroko Data Trade Input (DTI), with a view to paying the right import duty on the cargo, there would be no basis for any delay on the part of the Command in ensuring that the consignment is promptly cleared.
He pointed out that while the Customs personnel have the requisite up-to-date training and are more committed to their work, the new strategy to enhance clearing of goods that has been introduced would certainly enable goods to be cleared within an hour at the Command.
Dosunmu disclosed that, since officers have been warned against undue delays in attending to documents, while bottlenecks militating against speedy clearance of cargoes have also been eliminated, the Command was already working towards completing the clearing processes in less than an hour.
He commended the Customs chief for the improvements recorded by the Command in its operations, noting that the provision of adequate logistics by the Customs Headquarters facilitated these, even as he appealed that the Area needed more encouragement to enhance its performance.