Importers/ Licensed Custom Agents Seek Immediate Clearance of Unentered/Overtime Goods Causing Congestion

Importers and Licensed Customs Agents have called on the Federal Government’s attention to give first consideration to the them for the clearance of unentered/overtime goods by advertisement and grace period allowed for clearance before public auction .

National President and Member of Presidential Task Force for the Reform of Nigerian Custom Service and Presidential Commitee on Destination Inspection, Lucky Eyis Amiwero in a letter addressed to the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, revealed that the unentered/overtime goods that are in the Port before April 2023 falls under the provision of Section 97 as some of them are still subject to normal Customs Clearance as contained section3 (4-6) Section 20-(b)which requires to pay duty and rent to Customs on such goods that merits Customs Clearance and make the Importer/ Licensed Customs Agents aware for clearance before any public auction is made.

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” We are the organization that draw the attention of the Federal Government on the need to decongest the Port from unentered/ overtime goods that litters the Ports, it is noted that some of the goods under overtime, are still subject to normal Customs clearance, in line with statute, especially the ones under constructive (Terminal) warehouse and those transferred to Ikorodu Terminal as Government ware house”

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Lucky Amiwero noted that majority of the uncleared/overtime goods are subject to lengthy and cumbersome process in the Port and are delayed by gridlock and access into the port, COVID-19 restrictions, lack of scanning machines, multiple agencies, dispute resolution mechanism as the core facilitating to not present in the clearing process and the fixing of rent and other charges by Nigeria Customs on goods deposited in terminal ( constructive)/ government warehouse.

” Within the period, 2009- 2022,the access roads that leads to the major port in Lagos i.e Tincan Island, Apapa, Lilypond and Brawal, cannot be accessed by port users due to bad roads, Pot hole, which constitute major obstacles and the abandonment of containers in the Port by importers due to the time to access and exist the port , that necessitate the increase of Terminal Charges on rent and demurrage on container by shipping companies, the excessive Charges lead to the abandonment of containers in ports”

” The Port was restricted within COVID 19 epidemic, 2019, which delayed the clearance of goods due to the restriction in the Nation, process in the port was limited, with majority of Port operators restricted indoors, this in turn increased the months of clearance, the excessive Terminal charges and shipping company charges, lead to the abandonment of most containers in the port”

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” Non-availability of scanning machine, from 2014 at the time in question, Custom examination is manual and laborious examination with 100% examination on most cases, that resulted to delays and constitutes excessive charges that leads to abandonment of container in the Port”

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” Multiple process and charges from various agencies constitute delays, with excessive Charges moving from one agency to another under going different process and payment no one-stop-shop mechanism or coordination agencies, which lead to abandonment of container ”

” Dispute resolution mechanism,(DRM) that is the core Facilitating trade, which prescribed Higher and independent Authority than Customs Authority, is not applied in most clearance process ,goods are allowed to stay in the port until issues are resolved, no electronic Bond-E-Bond or higher authority to intervene in most cases in line with Trade facilitation Agreement(TFA), which resulted to extreme delays some time months and in most cases abandonment of containers in the Port”

” The Nigeria Customs Service is to charge rent on all goods deposited in the Government warehouse as contained in Section 20-(b) being the time the goods where subject to overtime, before 2023, section97-(1)-(2) which clearly states- The provision of this section shall have effect in relation to any goods which are deposited in government warehouse under or by virtue of any provision of this Act, such rent shall be payable while the goods are deposited as may be fixed by the Board by notice in the Federal gazette”

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He urged the Federal Government to set up a commitee to deal with the issue of overtime goods in Nigerian Ports in order to generate legitimate revenue for the Nigerian Custom Service and reduce loss for the agents.

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” The unentered/ overtime goods are abandoned in the Port due to the above disclosed hindrance , we implore the Federal Government to allow all such goods under the normal UCL/Overtime clearance so as to generate legitimate revenue for the Nigeria Customs Service, thereby reducing the complete loss of Nigerian Importer/Licensed Customs Agents on such good instead of auctioning”

” A committee of expert should be set up be government to evaluate overtime goods in Nigerian Port and determined the cause and effect of the prevalent issue of abandonment of container and to mitigate its effect” he wrote.

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