Barr. Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) made the call while on a tour of terminals and shipping companies for assessment to compliance on automation of their services.
Hassan and his management team who visited Ports and Cargo Handling Company, Ports and Terminal Multipurpose Services (PTML), and CMA CGM shipping agency, decried the bad state of the port access roads, thereby calling on the government to treat the road as sacred.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria which has been working and making intercession or intervention should also look at the port system and intervene which is very important.
“The Central Bank should focus on the maritime industry. We are pleading with Central Bank to look at that.
“Our exports, for example, are going on smoothly and now, access to the port is difficult and some of our terminals are not configured for export because we have been importing things for a very long time and we have become the import-dependent economy.
“We cannot be the import-dependent economy, we need to export and the Central Bank has put the basic things; the portal, the processes, they are doing well on that but we need a special focus.
Speaking further, Bello reiterated the need for synchronization of government agencies for efficiency in the port, saying it would minimise the problems in the port.
According to him, the success of the synergy and automation of the port hinges on access to the port.
“That’s why we have the port community system. This is a system that is going to be driven by the Nigerian Ports Authority and all of us being partners. It is important we know what all of us are doing and make it transparent.
“So, if we have that including payment, participation of financial institutions including freight forwarders, the terminals themselves, the shipping companies, government agencies as decreed by the government earlier we will have less problem
“But all these hinge on access to the ports, the government should provide the access roads. Government should treat repairs and the building of new roads to the port as something sacred.
“Unless we do this and there is means through which goods are delivered and evacuated from the ports, we still have the same problems. The government has to provide a conducive atmosphere for port operations”
On the challenges of achieving 24 hours port operations, the NSC boss stated that “On the banking issue, there is also the issue of security and the problem of all the government agencies having staff to be deployed for 24 hours and the shippers and their agents themselves.
“But if we have a digital port, it makes things easier. Nobody needs to come but the port will be operating 24 hours”
Asked about the recent move by a terminal to review terminal charges, he said that the Council was not aversed to any tariff review as long as it is justifiable.
He added that before such review can take place, it has to be communicated to the Council who will, in turn, engage stakeholders before it can be ratified.
“I have said it that Nigerian Shippers’ Council is never aversed to review of terminal or local shipping charges but the only thing is that it has to be justified.
“All charges must be tied to the service that providers are providing to our Shippers and the processes because we have laws that guide tariff and we want the terminals to go through the process and write to us after which we consult with the stakeholders,” he said.
The Managing Director of Ports and Cargo Handling Services (PCHS), John Jenkins stated some of the challenges the terminal is facing that hamper its efficiency
According to Jenkins, lack of scanners leads to the inability to carry out examinations in many containers which leads to block-stacking of containers.
He added that the terminal had not reviewed its charges in the last nine years whereas the cost of things has gone high. He disclosed that the terminal had to increase the tariff to be able to meet up its obligations.
On his part, Ascanio Russo, the Managing Director of Ports and Terminal Multipurpose Services Limited (PTML) and Grimaldi Agencies, Nigeria enthused that the facility has automated almost all its processes, saying the only agencies that still make the terminal do manual processes are Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigeria Customs Service.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved so far and we are also happy that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has identified that our terminal and shipping agency is the most advanced in terms of digitisation in the industry
“I am happy that he brought up this issue because before, there was no digitisation and this is what we have invested in the last ten years probably, and I am happy he is pushing the issue on the agenda.
Speaking further, Russo stated that insecurity is the bane of achieving 24- hour port operations in Nigeria.
He explained that insecurity makes clearing agents not to come for clearing at night even as he said that the insecurity must be nipped to be able to achieve round-the-clock port operations.
“The clearing agents and Customs officers are not feeling safe and we cannot blame them. The area where we operate can be volatile and no one wants to stay late in the night when they know that when they leave, they may be attacked by armed robbers or any other threat may arise.”
Tin Can Customs nets N574.3 billion in 2022 —–records N242.365 billion in exports
Oloyede said the figure represented an increase of N80.90 billion or 16.39 percent when compared with N493.4 billion recorded in 2021.
“This feat can be attributed to the constant rejigging of the existing measures geared toward sustaining the command’s revenue profile.
“It is as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as: periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation,” he said.
He noted that the command also ensured robust and continuous stakeholder engagements and collaborations with all sister government agencies and maritime associations.
“These led to timely intelligence sharing, utilisation and voluntary compliance to government’s extant laws by the trading public,” Oloyede said.
He added that the command increased surveillance on declarations made in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items.
He pointed out that the system paid off with the command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.85 billion.
“These seizures comprise 763kgs of Colorado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.6 million only as given by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5,060 pieces).
“Also among seized items are 1,150 bales of second-hand clothing, 1,190 cartons of 20 per carton of potassium bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1,200 per carton Pharmacol injection chloroquine phosphate 322.5mg.5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished machetes.
“Also, 1,383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2,666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter Ex-Premium Inverter Battery, 1,980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1,048 cartons of Tilda basmati rice,” he said.
Oloyede listed others as 2,594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, six Mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types.
He said that the seizures when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a Debit Note of N607.27 only, show an increase of 11 seizures and N1.24 billion.
He said that the increase in the DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, the high value of seized items and Naira depreciation that led to higher exchange rates on imported items.
“These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the provision of Sections 46 and 161 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022- 2026.
“The command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, Federal Operations Unit, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made.
“A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the command has 8 cases pending in court,” he said.
Oloyede said the command recorded a significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589,696,648 (N242,365,322,333.00) as against the $496,075,796 (N141,985,109,159.00) recorded in 2021.
He attributed the increase of 34.4 percent in the FOB to the high quality and value of exported commodities.
“However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986.8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022.
“The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current government fiscal policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrest with its concomitant economic challenges,” he said
He listed the commodities exported through the command to include: cocoa beans, insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminum ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items.
“Cocoa beans were the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity.
“The future of export in the command looks brighter as the command in line with the headquarter circular on Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command’s harmonised SOP for the seamless facilitation of Export Trade in strict compliance with Extant Laws and guidelines on Export,” he said.
CBN succumbs to pressure, extends use of old naira notes to February 10
Up till Saturday, CBN had insisted on the 31st January deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 despite overwhelming complaints that the notes are either not available or in short supply in the banks or their Automated Teller Machines.
Last October, Emefiele announced the Naira redesign policy which entails the issuance of new notes to replace the existing N200, N500 and N1,000 series.
”No container will leave Apapa Port without 100 percent physical examination”
declares Auwal Mohammed as he takes over as new Apapa Customs Area controller
—promises to surpass N1 trillion revenue mark
—vows not to facilitate non-compliant traders
The Eyewitness reporter
Despite the deployment of cargo scanning machines, the new area comptroller of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, has vowed that no container shall leave the Apapa port without a 100 percent physical examination.
Comptroller Mohammed, who formally took over the mantle of leadership of the command Friday, 27th, January 2023, from Ag. Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs(ACG) Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the decision to subject all cargo to physical examination was meant to account for every content of container passing through the command and to maximize revenue returns to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, warned non-compliant traders to steer clear of the command as he would not facilitate their trade as he desired to surpass the one trillion revenue mark achieved by the command under the former area controller Yusuf.
”We shall continue to conduct 100 percent physical examination of cargo so that we can account for all the cargo in the containers and to generate more revenue so that we can surpass the one trillion revenue collection that the command has already achieved. No package, no container should leave Apapa port without a proper 100 percent physical examination.” the new Comptroller told his officers who had gathered to welcome him.
He continued ”Today marks another era in the history of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service. I am inheriting a well-structured area command. The level of achievements and status achieved under my predecessor will be sustained while I will look for all means to surpass them.
I am ready for the job. I am aware of the big shoe I am stepping into but I am well prepared for it”, Comptroller Mohammad said.
He, therefore, asked the officers to be at their utmost best to cooperate and work with him to sustain and surpass the legacies of his predecessor.
He also solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders whom he promised to engage with and updated frequently on all issues and policies that will enhance their trade and performance of the command.
The new helmsman also charged all the releasing officers and the image analysts who will be conducting the scanning of cargo to be diligent and exhibit the utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism in their duty so as not to release uncustomed goods.
Mohammed, who was redeployed from Onne Port Area Command when he was the area controller, also enjoined the importers and their agents to be compliant with the cargo clearance procedural processes in order to enjoy a seamless cargo release.
”The goods clearance procedure is simple. Everything starts and ends with declaration and if there is a proper and correct declaration of cargo, there won’t be any need for delay and unnecessary interference with the process”, he admonished.
Earlier, the outgoing Area Controller, Ag. Yusuf, while handling over the operations and procedures of the command to his successor, solicited the support and cooperation of all the officers and other stakeholders for the new helmsman, urging them to avail the new comptroller of the same level of support, guidance, and cooperation and advice they gave him.
He also lauded the untiring efforts of his officers whom he said were instrumental in the monumental achievements recorded by the command under his watch.
Consequently, some officers who excelled in the discharge of their duties were commended and awarded certificates of merit, including the indefatigable Public Relations officer of the Command, CSC Abubakar Usman.
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