By Godfrey Bivbere
Unless urgent action is taken by the Federal Government, the congestion at the ports would worsen, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, has warned.
The Council noted that after the concessioning of the nation’s port terminals resulting in the partitioning of the ports in accordance with allotments, spaces reserved as government warehouses within the ports were taken over by the private terminal operators.
The Council in a petition dated November 5, 2019 and signed by its National President, Lucky Amewiro, noted that lack of space at the port is affecting the smooth movement of cargo from and to the ports.
It stated that unlike before when overtime cargoes were moved from the terminals to the government warehouses, such cargoes are now being moved to Ikorodu terminal in Lagos.
The Council further noted that it is the responsibility of both the terminal operators and the shipping companies to move these categories of consignments from the ports to the warehouse in accordance with the Customs Excise and Management Act, CEMA.
The petition read in part, “We hereby bring to the notice of the Federal Government that of the need responsibility to transfer all unentered, uncleared and seized goods are the sole responsibility of the Terminal Operators/Shipping companies as contained in Section 31-(1-2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act C 45 of 2004.
“The power to submit the uncleared, unentered and seized goods is conferred on the Nigeria Customs Service by Section 31(1-2) and the transfer of the said goods is the responsibility of the Terminal Operators/ Shipping Companies as contained in the Act, which clearly states, in section 31-(2):
“In line with the provision of the Act, the person administering the area, or where there is no such person, the owner of the ship, aircraft or vehicles, or agent, shall immediately transfer all such goods to the Government warehouse or such other place as the proper officer (Customs officer) may approve.
“All uncleared, unentered and seized goods are the property of the Federal Government as contained in Section 31, 20 and 97 of the Customs and Excise Management Act C 45 of 2004.
“The provision in Section 31-(1, 4 &5) 20-(B) 97-1&2 conferred ownership of Uncleared, unentered and seized goods on the Federal Government, such goods are no more the property or under the control of the terminal/ Shipping Company as the first receiver but, under the legal authority of Federal Government, controlled by the Nigeria Customs Service, which is empowered by various provision of the Act to process the goods on behalf of the Federal government and Charge Rent as provided in the Act.
“The provision with regards to goods deposited and deemed to be deposited at Federal Government warehouses, are all Federal Government property, which authorized the Customs after the approved period, to own the title of the goods on behalf of Federal Government, process and Charge rent as prescribe under section 20 –(b) and 97 –(1&2).
“After the approved days by the Board on uncleared and unentered goods, any such goods are under the control of the Nigeria Customs Service who process and charge rent in line with the Act
“We hereby urgently request the Federal Government to compel the Terminal Operators /Shipping Companies to transfer all uncleared, unentered and seized goods to Federal Government Warehouse to ease the port of the congestion so as to avoid the surcharge by the international community that is illegal.