… Says over 2,000 Trucks Trapped at Borders, Counsels on Purchase of Scanners
By Shola Fadeyi
Hon. Iju Nwabunike, President , ANLCA
The Federal Government has been advised to appoint a Special Adviser on Maritime who will acquaint and guide President Muhammadu Buhari on decision making process on the Maritime sector of the economy.
This is, as the Association also implored the Federal Government to review the ongoing partial border closure policy , and allow over 2,000 trucks trapped across the borders to come into the country as well as contract the procurement and management of scanners for the use of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS) to the private sector. .
The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Honourable Tony Iju Nwabunike gave this advice when he led members of the Association’s National Executive Committee (NECOM) to the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Boss Mustapha, recently.He also emphasized on these issues at a Press Briefing the Association held at its Secretariat in Lagos yesterday.
On the issue of a Special Adviser for the Maritime sector , Nwabunike said this became necessary in view of the overall importance of the Maritime sector to the development of the economy, and to enhance the quality of policies to be enunciated for the shipping sector.
According to him, for the fact that oil is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy ,even as its transportation is done through the waters in the Maritime sector , while Customs which is the second highest revenue earner also operates in the industry , there is a need for a Special Adviser who will ensure that the right decisions are taken on issues in the sector.
‘’ Such an appointee who may be consulted before certain critical decisions are taken will assist the government in avoiding mistakes that could lead to setbacks .Such office existed under former President Goodluck Jonathan’’, he said.
He disclosed that the appointment of a capable hand by government, to man such a position will make it possible for him to enlighten it on activities in the sector and advise it on the steps to take on particular issues for the benefit of the industry and the economy.
Nwabunike stated that the association was sure that such an appointment would be of immense benefit to the maritime sector , advising however that the appointee should be an expert in Maritime.
On the border closure, he pleaded with the government to take a second look at the policy with a view to reviewing it for the benefit of legitimate importers and traders whose consignments have been trapped since August 20, 2019 when the operation started , adding that this step should be taken despite some gains the closure has brough to the country.
The ANLCA President said over 2,000 trucks are trapped along the border corridors leading to and from Nigeria with goods worth billions of naira and trucks deteriorating in immobile state along the border routes, advising that dutiable goods from Nigeria’s neighbouring countries be allowed to pay duties and come into the country.
He said the approach , if adopted by the government will show that it has human face , save many businesses from dying and ameliorate the state of indebtedness in which many genuine businessmen have found themselves due to the policy.
As concerns procurement of scanners ,( though government has already ordered for some through an approval granted by the Federal Executive Council(FEC) last year), he said it would be more cost effective if government allows the private sector to purchase the scanners than for the Customs to buy and manage it by itself.
Nwabunike explains that if any company who has a track record in the management of the scanners is allowed to purchase and manage them at no cost to government ,the firm will do it effectively , with a view to recouping its investment on the equipment.
The ANLCA President said there was a dire need for working scanners at the Lagos Seaports because of the delay caused by the ongoing hundred percent , physical examination of cargoes at the Port due to the lack of working scanners.
According to him, the absence of scanners for examination of cargoes was also adding to the cost of goods clearing, and thus to the prices of goods and services in the market since Importers who are desirous of profit must add every extra cost to their expenses.
Nwabunike stated that the company that gets the mandate to supply the scanners must also be ready to train the Customs, on the handling and operation of the equipment, while it would need to advise that the Service changes the equipment every five years.