Former Deputy Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service at Apapa Command, Yahaya Idris rtd. has said that making honest declarations by importers of their consignments remains a crucial element in achieving and sustaining ease of doing business at the nation’s seaports.
Recall that the Federal Government had some years ago signed Executive Order Six, which was in reaction to the global rating, in which Nigeria ranked high among destinations with the poor ease of doing business index. The order seeks to promote efficient port operations by removing all encumbrances on processing, release and movement of cargo at all the nation’s seaports and related facilities.
Speaking at a one-day seminar on the Anchor Nigeria; Sea time experience organised by Port Business Radio in Lagos recently with the theme: “Capacity Building and On-board ship camping experience challenge”, DC Yahaya, who is the Managing Director/CEO, Naija Tourism Radio, noted that the task of promoting ease of doing business at the ports rests on all stakeholders including the importers and their Customs brokerage agents.
According to him, in keying into and promoting the principles of ease of doing business by making accurate and honest declarations for their imported consignments, the importers would not only be helping the government achieve efficient port operations but also themselves, which is a win -win situation for all.
He disclosed that it was in a bid to promote and enhance ease of doing business that the service created the examination centre also called the work station, which is both linked to the Automated Systems for Customs Data ASYCUDA through the Customs and Processing Centre CPC and the Nigeria Integrated Customs System NIICIS ii.
It was further gathered that it was in an effort to ensure a uniform examination of cargo under the work station that the service encouraged all government agencies that participate in cargo examination at the port to hook on to the NIICIS ii platform to enable them view documentations made by the importers online real time.
These agencies include the National Agency for Food, Drug administration and Control NAFDAC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, which are invited when cargo relating to their area of operation is being examined, which is also in line with efforts to curtail human interface.
“The essence of bringing all these agencies together under one platform is for them to know and carry out their schedule of duty. That centre was also linked to the APM Apapa Terminals, which accounts for bulk of the container traffic at the Apapa Customs command.
“What we were doing was when a Customs brokerage agent puts in his documentations on the NIICIS ii, all the agencies view them and when the documents come to me, I will forward same to the APM Terminals in order to know the containers that are available for examination and thereafter, they return the documents and I send them to the station.
“Then we call the relevant agencies because in actual fact, it is not all agencies that should participate in the examination of all cargo, for instance we call SON when we have consignments relevant to its operations, same for NAFDAC and NDLEA and this was how we promoted ease of doing business at the port.
But overall, the importers have very crucial roles to play by ensuring honest and accurate declaration of their consignments to make the examination easier and faster, so the ease of doing business thing cannot work successfully without the importers making genuine and honest declarations and so they have to assist themselves and also assist the government”, Yahaya said emphatically.