In a bid to urgently address the evacuation of lingering overtime cargoes at the port and streamline customs clearance, Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi MFR, orchestrated a stakeholders’ meeting on Monday, November 6, 2023, in Lagos. The meeting brought together key players, including terminal operators, truck owners, licensed customs agents, and other crucial stakeholders within the port environment.
During the event, Adeniyi emphasized the imperative of fulfilling the government’s objective to decongest the port by expeditiously removing containers that have overstayed. He articulated, “The objective is to enhance customs procedures, ultimately reducing both time and the cost of conducting business.”
The CGC invoked the authority granted by the Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, allowing the NCS to remove overtime cargoes from the port. He stressed the significance of collaboration and participation from all stakeholders for the successful execution of this initiative.
Adeniyi announced the formation of a committee, as outlined by the Act, comprising government agencies, representatives from terminal operators, and shipping lines. This committee will oversee the systematic removal of containers from the port.
The CGC disclosed that the NCS has devised strategies to address customs processes and procedures, including the launch of the Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) program, the implementation of a robust risk management system, and a time-release study scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.
Stakeholders at the event pledged their support to alleviate the port’s burden of overtime cargoes. Gerald Mbamalu, representing ICP Bonded Terminal, called for government intervention to enhance road infrastructure for smoother truck movements.
Tunde Keshinro, a terminal operator, pointed out that challenges associated with overtime cargoes are procedural, suggesting that disposing of the cargo at their current location would streamline the process and expedite necessary steps.
To achieve the goal of a 48-hour clearance process, Hon. Princess Chi Eze, Vice President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), urged the CGC to maximize the use of scanners at Apapa Port. In response, Zonal Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Bello Jibo, affirmed NCS’s commitment to monitoring effective scanner utilization through regular visits to the ports and terminals.