In a proactive move to address persistent challenges hindering cargo clearance processes in Nigerian ports, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, convened a roundtable interactive session in Lagos on Friday. The session, part of the recently concluded CGC’s Conference 2023, brought together key maritime and excise stakeholders to collaboratively devise lasting solutions.
The meeting included senior serving and retired customs officers, terminal operators, freight forwarders, licensed customs agents, and representatives of excise stakeholders. CGC Adeniyi acknowledged concerns raised in previous discussions, such as multiple alerts, frequent downtime of the Customs Processing Center (CPC), numerous checkpoints, and difficulties accessing ports. The focus of the next phase is to establish time-bound solutions for these challenges.
Addressing the gathering, CGC Adeniyi stated, “Issues have been openly discussed. The main ones facing cargo clearance will be addressed by collaborating with key stakeholders on building a framework for the way forward to these outlined hurdles. There will be a commitment to the creation and implementation of new policies that are in line with decisions that are taken today, and these approaches will be timebound to ensure we achieve the wanted objective soon.”
To facilitate this, a panel was established, comprising representatives of stakeholders and the Nigeria Customs Service. The panel will work towards addressing concerns hindering effective port operations and present cumulative recommendations to be implemented by the first quarter of 2024.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, a panelist, urged port users and stakeholders to optimize weekend operations and suggested the use of barges without making it a commercial process.
Stakeholders appreciated CGC Adeniyi for reinstating the service’s annual conference and expressed readiness to collaborate with Customs. Tochukwu Ezeisi, President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), noted, “For the first time in years, freight forwarders are happy because our issues are being discussed and decisions are taken immediately.”
Alhaji Kazeem Isa Adua, Deputy President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), commended the CGC for organizing the conference, expressing optimism for a smooth and optimized clearance process in the near future.