Lockdown: Licenced Customs agents lament woes
..warn of “Port chaos” in weeks
By Iyke Chime, Maritime Correspondent
Nigeria Customs are loosing billions of money to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19, an official said this morning. The experts anticipate “Chaos” at the Ports in the post lockdown era.
According to the Association of Licensed Customs Agents, (NALCA) members are facing difficult moments due to the Port congestion at the Nigerian Ports, mainly in Lagos. However, the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Senator Fadahunsi called for the opening of borders saying the most important thing is effective border management.
He also called for the opening up of other ports to ease the pressure in Lagos.
In an exclusive interview on TVC with Yori Folarin, monitored by Irohinoodua, the association’s Chairman Mr Taiye Oyeniyi said the lockdown has brought a lot of confusion at the Lagos ports adding that lack of order at the Ports has jeopardised international trade in Nigeria.
He said the licensed agents should have been given enough time before the lockdown.
He related the incidence of the shutting of the borders in August last year adding that it cost its members the loss of about 500 trailers with perishable goods whose value run into billions of naira.
“The current situation will affect the economy. Our goods cannot be cleared at the airports yet we are confronted with harassment from security operatives”, Oyeniyi said.
He said the current lockdown will have a high toll on the economy.
“We all realise the state of the country state. How do we manage the fall of oil to 30 dollars? How do we revive the economy.?”
He said it was time the government diversified the economy from over dependence on oil.
” I want to encourage the Government to diversify. Our economy is import dependent which is affecting the country.
At the moment, vessels cannot discharge because the port is fiĺled to the brim, ” he said.
He regretted that at present nobody is in charge of the shedding the burden on the ports.
“When the shipping companies do not do what they are expected to do, who do you report to, “Oyeniyi said.
He said Nigerian economy is domiciled on 95 percent of importation adding that there should be a synergy between banks and the port authority to deal with the present situation.”
He said further “The government should engage the stakeholders. We run Maritime as if it’s a military era. The normal thing is if you want to close borders you need to give notice.We should honour the international.treaties we have signed The closure of the border for instance led to loss of goods in 500 trailers”
He called for stakeholders management and engagement to resolve the quagmire.
In his contribution, Fadahunsi laments the chaos at the port. He said the ship owners and other stakeholders act as if they are bigger than Nigerians.