By Udo Ibuot
THE Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has been urged to review the process that enables individuals and organizations obtain permits to operate bonded warehouse terminals without possessing the necessary equipment to inspect containers bringing goods into the country.
An Apapa-based importer, Mr. Hillary Maduka, told Vanguard in an interview that under the prevailing circumstances, “anybody can bring anything, including prohibited items. Without proper inspection, for instance, recent arms seizures by the service could not have been possible.”
Maduka said that some bonded terminals such as Quenner, located in Otto Woff area of Apapa among others, were operating without equipment to inspect containers but have been given the mandate to do so. The terminal is under the jurisdiction of the Apapa Port Command of the Customs.
He said the terminals parade neither relevant equipment nor presence of relevant government agencies, adding, “the company has been in operation for over a year but does not have necessary equipment to load and off-load goods from container.
“We urge the management of the Nigerian Customs Service under Col. Hameed Ali (retd), to support the anti-corruption war by enforcing its mandate with responsibility firm enough to boost, rather than undermine, the president’s chosen focus.”
Contacted, the general manager of Quenner terminals, Mr. Lawrence Osakwe, said: “the allegation is the price we have to pay for extraordinary success in less than two years of operation. We discharge our services inside 24 hours which may be why people are peddling rumours. We operate by the conditions of the licence.”
Public Relations Officer of the Tin Can Port Command, Mr. Uche Ejesieme, denied knowledge of the allegation. He emphasized that only individuals and organizations that met the conditions were granted permit to operate bonded terminals.