Business

CPPE seeks review of Customs’ strategy to avoid disruptions at ports

Following the on-going imbroglio at the country’s gateways over Nigeria Customs Service (NCS’) threats to impose sanctions on terminal operators and other agencies at the ports for infractions, the Centre for the Promotion for the Private Enterprise (CPPE) has solicited better ways to be adopted in order to avoid negative effect on stakeholders. CPPE founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Muda Yusuf, stated this in an interview with New Telegraph in Lagos. Yusuf said: “We acknowledge the need for all operators at the ports to abide by the terms and agreement of their operation, including the financial obligations.

“We recognise the need to enforce compliance with such obligations. However, this should be done in a way that will not impact negatively on innocent stakeholders at the ports. He continued: “We, therefore, request that in imposing sanctions on terminal operators or other agencies at the ports, innovative ways should be adopted to avoid negative effect on other stakeholders, particularly importers and exporters.

“There are instances where consignments on which duties have been paid and cleared have been trapped at the terminals that have been sealed. “The Nigerian Customs Service should therefore review its strategy on sanctions imposition to avoid disruptions of businesses of innocent economic players.” Meanwhile, the economic expert also spoke on the 24-hour activities at the ports, saying “the activities in our maritime sector are 24-hour activities. Therefore, it is imperative for all agencies working at the ports to have operating hours that accommodates the nature and character of the port’s ecosystem.

“Therefore, both the shipping companies and the terminal operators should operate working hours that reflect the character of the industry in order not to impose unnecessary hardship on importers and other players in the sector.” According to him, “the current practice, for instance, is that shipping companies open at 9 am and close at 4 pm, and in-between they observe a one-hour break. Some of the off-dock terminals do not open until 11 am. Some terminals don’t even work on weekends. This practice is inimical to the operations of business and the smooth processes of international trade. “Additionally, some of the major terminals do not issue Terminal Delivery Notes (TDO) after 4 pm. All of these operating hours are not compatible with an efficient value delivery to importers and exporters. “They are not customerfriendly.

Many of the terminals and operators do not have electronic payment platforms that allow for efficient transactions with their institutions.” On the working hours at the airport cargo terminals, Yusuf said: “The working hours at the cargo terminals of our international airports are completely at variance with the demands of the investors who ought to be treated as customers. “The airport operates twenty – four hours, some agencies of government like the immigration and Customs, Plant Quarantine operatives also operate twenty – four hours. It is therefore inappropriate for the operatives of the airport cargo terminals to have operating hours that are business friendly. “From information, the airport cargo terminals open at 10 am and close at 4 pm, and in-between they observe a one-hour break. “This is essentially operating for just five hours a day. On Saturdays they operate between 10 am and 12:30 pm. Essentially, it is as though these very critical agencies of government work for only five-hour a day and only for about two-hours on Saturday. “For an agency that is supposed to support international trade which is a 24 hours business transaction, the operating hours should be reviewed.”

 

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