By Godfrey Bivbere & Favour Efughi
CLEARING agents under the aegis of Association of the Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, and the Shippers’ Association Lagos State, SALS, have cried out over loss of huge revenue due to involvement of foreigners in the clearing of cargo from the nation’s ports.
Both bodies noted that the invasion was not only depriving the nation and its citizens of accruable revenue but has resulted in the loss of jobs. They also observed that the foreign clearing agents repatriate millions of naira yearly out of the country, a development which is only applicable to Nigeria.
President of SALS, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, called for urgent intervention because the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, a government agency established to protect practitioners has failed in its responsibility. He noted that almost all the processes of cargo clearance at the ports were already within their portfolios, leaving Nigerian freight forwarders idle.
In his words, “Foreigners prepare all the Form M and place order with suppliers of the firm; ship it into the country, clear the cargo and deliver to consignees. Freight Forwarders are losing their jobs to foreigners. Reports reaching the Shippers’ Association, Lagos State, is that some private foreign companies are bent on taking over all the blue chip companies and manufacturing industries in Nigeria through out-sourcing.”
Similarly, National President of ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu, noted that the foreigners were having a field day in Nigeria, stressing that other countries do not allow foreigners access to their ports, let alone give them licence for cargo clearance.
He said, “I will tell you that Customs is to blame. Most of these foreign companies come into this country as forwarders of cargos or as agents to shipping liners. Some companies come with the impression that they can do warehousing, but they use the style of door to door delivery system.”
“They get involved in procurement and they want to deliver to the owner including doing the customs operations. It is only in Nigeria we have Customs operations in the hands of foreigners, it’s not done elsewhere.”
Continuing, he said “ All over the world, indigenous people are the ones given the responsibility to act as Customs agents, for several reasons; patriotism is part of it, security is part, because there is no foreigner that will love you more than a Nigerian and then capital flight. Most of them that operate here, the money they make in Nigeria, they like to take it out
“So, we do not know the reason why Customs will not continue to give due diligence on indigenous operators that have applied for license, but prefer to give them to foreigners because they are big enough to find their way.”