Manufacturers in the country have said that the process of clearing cargo at the two major seaports in Lagos requires a combination of 110 signatures.
According to them, before a manufacturer can get his raw materials out of the Tin Can Island Port, about 70 people will have to inspect the goods and append their signatures to the documents releasing the goods, while about 40 signatures are required for the same process at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
The industrialists made this observation during an interactive session between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
Directing a series of questions to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), a manufacturer, who identified himself simply as Bagu, noted that physical examination of goods and scanning at the Tin Can Island Port took longer than at the Apapa Port.
He added that the situation was not limited to imports but also to exports as well.
Bagu said, “We are also into exports; it takes three days to close Customs export entry in Apapa. In Tin Can, it took me three weeks to close the entry. My goods had already reached their destination and we had to pay heavy demurrage; so, we stopped using them for exports.
“The 48-hour clearance is becoming a dream. The predecessor of the CG was working very hard to achieve the 48 hours’ clearance; I don’t see anybody discussing this again.
“And lastly sir, the scanners are not working in any of the Lagos ports. Please help us look into it.”
A corruption risk assessment report released by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Bureau of Public Procurement, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, on the Nigerian ports stated that importers or agents required a minimum of 79 signatures of government officials to clear their goods at the nation’s gateways.
The President, MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, described the slow clearance of cargo at the ports as one of the issues that had been hampering the manufacturing sector.
In addition to the delay at the ports, Jacobs also bemoaned the late response to complaints raised by members of the association.
In order to address the challenge, he suggested a decentralisation of the complaints unit of the NCS in the six geopolitical zones of the country as opposed to one location.
By Pita Ochai