Diversion of Nigeria bound cargoes have increased from about 40 percent in 2014 to about 60 percent as at 2016 due to unfriendly import policies, stakeholders in the industry have said. The stakeholders made this known at the round table organized by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN, in Lagos.
Speaking on the issue, National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Lucky Amiwero, said government’s policies have led to importers shipping their goods through neighbouring ports of Benin Republic, Togo and Cameroon. The NCMDLCA boss listed some of the items involved as rice, vehicles, ground-nut oil, clothes (both new and fairly used) etc. He explained that goods destined for neighbouring countries without ports that normally come through the nation’s ports, now go to neighbouring ports, with the dangerous dimension of Nigerian bound cargoes now going straight to these ports before coming back through unapproved routes.
This he continued, has resulted in the country losing revenue accruable to it as well as over stretching officials of that Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, who are under-staffed, under-equipped and under-paid. Amiwero said, “we have lost our trans-shipment and transit cargoes to ports of Benin, Togo and Cameroon,” adding that such cargoes found their way into countries that do not have ports, like Niger Republic only to find their way back into the country.
He described freight forwarders as those who were causing image problems for clearing and forwarding profession, noting that freight forwarders were not supposed to be involved in the clearing business and should, therefore, not have access into the ports but wait until the goods are cleared out before they take possession.
The national president of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Olayewola Shittu, however, agreed with Amiwero on who should be involved in the business of clearing. Shittu said that those who call themselves freight forwarders are the ones involved in shady transactions at the ports. He noted that the average importer wants to cut corners by paying less than they are supposed to and freight forwarders are willing accomplices. He pointed out that companies are the ones licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and as such only officials of such companies should have access to the port to clear importers cargo while freight forwarders are supposed to wait until the goods gets out of the ports.