By Naomi Uzor
The Lagos Chamber of commerce and Industry has sought the urgent intervention of the federal government to stop the disruption that the numerous customs units are creating for importers, within and outside the ports.
In a statement by the Director General of LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, he said the practice was a negation of the ease of doing business agenda of the government and it was hurting investors.
He said “Delays lead to huge demurrage paid by importers to shipping companies and Terminal operators. It also affects the production cycle of manufacturers with implications for cost escalation”.
He said the chamber was concerned over the role of maritime police in the clearance of cargo at Lagos Ports, as there were reports of frequent obstruction of the release of cargo by Maritime police even when the release has been duly authorized by statutory agencies charged with the responsibility of cargo examination.
“The involvement of maritime police in the cargo release process is a needless duplication, causing avoidable delays and huge demurrage payment by importers. Already the port police are involved in the examination and release of cargo at the ports. The frequent blocking of cargo by the maritime police is undermining the ease of doing the business policy of the federal government
“Before cargoes are released DSS and Port Police, are security agencies that authorize the release of cargo. The interception of cargo by the maritime police is a contravention of the Presidential Executive order on ports processes. The LCCI calls on the Inspector General of Police to urgently intervene to redress the situation in the interest of the Nigerian economy”.
Muda disclosed that the LCCI has received reports of undue delay in the issuance of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) to importers, adding that the delays create bottlenecks which make the PAAR administration process vulnerable to corrupt practices.
“The LCCI, therefore, calls on the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs to investigate incessant delays in the release of PAAR and the associated transparency issues.”
Delays cause high demurrage charges both by shipping companies and the terminal operators. These constitute additional cost to the business. LCCI urges the CG Customs to quickly look into this problem” he said.