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Freight forwarders bemoan cargo clearing in Apapa port

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SOME concerned freight forwarders have continued to lament the declining number of containers cleared by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Apapa port.

The freight forwarders who are daily users of the ports registered their dissatisfaction recently while speaking on the challenges facing their operations in Lagos State.
The group alleged that in spite of the automation of port operations only between 38 and 40 containers were cleared by NCS for release daily.

They noted that the Risk Assessment Report (RAR), Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and the latest Nigeria Customs Integrated Service II (NICIS 11) are expected to speed up cargo transaction but to no avail.

In his assessment, the Convener, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Osita Chukwu, remarked that clearing and release of containers daily had become herculean and, most times, fruitless because of human interference, coupled with incessant system break down.

Chukwu, therefore appealed to the Customs management to make the port user-friendly to check loss of investment capital through undeserved demurrage. According to him, “It behoves customs to support other agencies to be alert to their duties to ensure transparency and accountability in remittance of funds generated from cargo transactions.

For Obinna Okoroafor, who has done most of his clearing business at the Republic of Benin port said that there was less human contact in the Cotonou port than the Apapa port.

Okoroafor, a chieftain of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Ikorodu chapter, urged authorities at the Apapa port to employ automated platforms to hasten and ease process of doing business. “If everything is streamlined into a proactive and functional automated platform as witnessed in other countries, it will save us time and money too,” he said. Debi Akinola, a Customs Broker, said that the Apapa port, a premier port in Nigeria, should be a model for others. Akinola said that agencies should appoint competent officers to efficiently manage the tasks at the Apapa port.

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