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Freight forwarders, Customs trade words over delays in fast-track clearance

Alhaji Hakeem Olanrewaju, Managing Director of Talod Oceanair Freight Limited.

By Kemi Abioye &  Abigail Ezewanfor
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have lamented the  delays in the fast track process for clearance of raw materials and other items meant for the manufacturing sector.

Speaking on the situation a  member of the International Freight Forwarding Association, IFFA, Mr. Solomon Anyawu, said the fast track system no longer achieves the purpose for which it was set up in the first place.

Customs CG, Hameed Ali

Anyanwu, made this known at a meeting with the newly appointed Custom Area Controller, CAC, Mr. Bashiru Abubakar, at the Custom office in Apapa last week.

The IFFA member said “there is nothing that makes it a fast track, fast track takes a lot of days to complete goods examination.

“The examination process should be done using the normal fast track to avoid further delay as it hinders the urgent use of goods by the owner.”

Reacting to this, the new Apapa Customs boss debunked the claims.

He noted that the delay may not be unconnected with such importers not properly completing their clearance processes.

In his words, “I disagree that the fast track is not fast. Once you are allowed to take your cargo from the sea, all you need to do is to pay your duties and perform the necessary things you are supposed to do, after which your goods would be released to you without any delay.

He assured stakeholders that he would not take it lightly with anybody involved in delaying any cargo.

He charged any stakeholder affected by any deliberate delay to bring such case to him, promising that such importer would surely go with a smiling face.

Meanwhile, stakeholders   have decried the constant breakdown of the Customs clearing system which they said is slowing down cargo clearance at Apapa port.

The stakeholders therefore called on the management of the Apapa Area1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to get the Service management in Abuja to upgrade system and enhance operations at the Port.

Chairman Ethics, Complaints and Discipline of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Mr Onyeka Job, said there was the need for system upgrading in the Command.

Job said the consistent systems breakdown at the port has led to series of problems but most importantly slow operation at the Command. He therefore pleaded with the new Customs Area Controller, CAC Basir    Abubakar,    for an immediate and effective resolution of the problem.

“The issue of system breakdown is too much in this command. Every day we experience it, so the system should be upgraded. I am appealing to you sir to use your good office to tell those who are concerned to upgrade the system because it is causing a lot of problem and delay also,” he said.

Talking about blockage of the road by trucks, former chairman of the IFAA, Apapa Chapter, Mr Peter Dogoh, lamented the fact that free spaces at the port normally used by truckers were allocated to the concessionaires.

Dogoh said those concerned should ensure that free spaces presently at the port be allocated to trucks to put a stop to road blockage which has caused much havoc to the society.

In his words:  “This issue of truck blocking the port access road from here to Ijesha is becoming worrisome. We have not been having this kind of problem before, when the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA was handling this place, we had so many places where trucks were parking in the port.”

“I went with Baba Alaye (another stakeholder) because I’m an operator in the port; we went there and found out there are so many spaces where trucks can park. These spaces can contain 100 trucks and this will help to reduce all these problems since there is no road.

Before we used to have trucks inside the port and today NPA is being adamant about it.”

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