As seized ones are released
By Oko Ebuka
IN a bid to foster economic development and reduce smuggling in the port, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMARTO, is set to sign an agreement with the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to prevent seizure of trucks along with containerized illegal goods they carry.
The agreement will exonerate the trucks and truck drivers who may be unaware of the nature of goods in the containers they are conveying to final destination.
Disclosing this in a chat with Vanguard Maritime Report, President of the Association, Mr. Remi Ogunbgemi, said that the agreement will not only protect their trucks from being seized but will help in exposing smugglers.
He said: “As we are carriers of the containers, there is no way we can know what is inside the container. So in the wisdom of Customs and based on our appeal, they have agreed to release our trucks that were seized. They have also approved a format in which the trucks will no longer be seized”.
Ogungbemi opined that the format will be in form of signing an undertaking by importers and agents who will be held responsible for loading any prohibited goods conveyed by trucks.
“You will be given a form to fill as an importer or agent, you have to sign that if there is any contraband, you will be held responsible. So any individual who doesn’t want to abide by this format, whether an importer or agent, is obviously having criminal intentions. It means the person has a hidden agenda to go against the regulations.
“We want to make sure that we remove all the trucks that are under their custody so that we will be able to start on a very clean slate which is the usage of the format they introduced”.
On the approval of truck release by Customs, AMATO boss revealed that a committee has been set up to work on the process of the release.
“The management of Nigerian Customs Service has approved the release of all the containerized trucks seized in all their commands.
“We have set up a committee to work out the process in releasing of the trucks.’’
Ogunbemi further revealed that the gesture is not exclusive to AMATO members only but rather, it is for any individual whose truck has been seized in similar circumstance.
He added that procedures for verification of truck owners will be thoroughly scrutinized to avoid impersonation.
“Even though it is AMATO that championed this course, this gesture is for every truck that is operating in the port irrespective of any association provided you are working in the port and carrying container. We don’t discriminate.
“The only people we will not listen to are those ones who carry their trucks to the border to go and carry rice or other illegal goods.
“And before any truck is given, we must verify the rightful owner to avoid giving it to wrong persons.
“There is a form that every individual will fill and also an affidavit that will be signed by truck owners because coming with the particulars is not enough”, he concluded.