Nov 4, 2016 – Nigerian Cargo Clearance Agents Now Jobless As Indians & Lebanese Businessmen Take Over
Foreign businessmen have taken over 50 per cent of Nigeria’s cargoes clearance at the nation’s seaports due to obnoxious government policies. It was learnt that Indians and Lebanese are being patronised by Nigerian companies.
According to the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), some of the foreign companies involved in clearing and freight forwarding in the country were licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). He explained that 50 per cent of Nigerians in the clearing profession had become jobless. Shittu said that Nigeria’s clearing agents were losing jobs daily to foreigners.
He noted that this could not happen in Cotonou Port or any of the ports in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Shittu explained that the only solution to tackle the problem was the indigenisation of custom brokerage. The president explained that a situation where foreigners have access to the nation’s seaports was not good for the country’s security.
Also, at a forum in NCS’s Area 1 Command in Lagos, the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise Chairman, Hope Uzodimma, said that trade policies in the country were in favour of foreigners.
He stressed the need to change policies that were not favourable to Nigerians. Uzodimma added that 85 per cent of cargoes imported by Benin Republic end up in Nigeria, stressing the need to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports. Also, the chairman said that it was the responsibility of the port concessionaires to buy scanning machines at the port, noting that Customs had no business under the law to replace or buy scanners.
He said: “This is the responsibility of the terminal operators. Under the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Section 31, it is the responsibility of the terminal operators to provide facilities at the ports.
Why are they not asking Customs to buy cranes at the ports? Why are they not asking Customs to buy forklift at the ports? “We were in Singapore and we saw how the terminal operators were competing to hit one million containers handling per month.
The terminal operators in Singapore provides enabling environment for their Customs. Why can’t we do the same in Nigeria? We must say no to all these anomalies so that the country can move forward.” Uzodimma also said that the auto policy would be reviewed. The chairman said that the National Assembly would review the auto policy that was making Nigeria- bound cargoes go to neighbouring ports.
“We know that it is because of the 35 per cent that is forcing many importers to go to neighbouring ports such as Cotonou and Lome. “That 35 per cent is the problem that is causing smuggling and it is not in favour of Nigeria but foreigners. So, we will prevail on government to remove it.