Customs Boss Urges Automation to Enhance Cargo Clearance
By Pita Ochai
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, has urged the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) to ensure that shipping companies and concessionaires automate their operations to enhance clearance of cargo.
Abdullahi made the call while inaugurating a 10-man Committee on Inland Container Depots (ICD) projects, drawn from the Customs and the NSC in Abuja.
He stressed the need for stakeholders to comply with regulations guiding operations at the ports to enhance effective and efficient clearance of cargo.
“We have to do more in the area of compliance. We cannot operate the ports without the cooperation of the stakeholders, which is the major problem we have now.
“I want to draw the attention of the Shippers Council to ensure that all shipping companies and the concessionaires are automated that is the only way we can enhance the way of clearing cargo.
“The concessionaires have no equipment and we should not shy away from telling the government that these people are not ready,” Abdullahi said.
He said that the terms of reference for the committee include developing a workable roadmap for effective release and smooth flow of ICD bound containers to and from the country’s seaports.
He said that it would develop standard cargo clearance procedures and documentation including Pre-arrival Report (PAR), scanning and effective movement of cargo to and from the ICDs.
Abdullahi added that the committee would recommend applicable software (electronic data interchange) for use and adoption by the ICD operators at the respective dry ports.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, said that the collaboration between the council and customs had brought tremendous achievement in the area of transit cargo. Bello urged other government and private agencies to come together and partner in the area of import operations to drive efficiency.
“This collaboration has enhanced the council and it will evolve a new port holder for efficiency, transparency, clearance and procedures.
“Customs is leading the way among the operators in the port as far as automation is concerned; we have collaborated with customs for a long time but this time we have more productive collaboration than ever before,” Bello said.
He said that the council would build its capacity, adding that it was reviewing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of all relevant port service providers.
Bello said that the council had been mandated to implement electronic cargo tracking, an advanced cargos information services in the country.
He said that the electronic cargo tracking would capture international trade arriving and departing from the port of destination and origin respectively.
Bello added that the tracking note would assist customs in it risk mitigation on imports.
He said that the tracking note would enhance and block revenue leakages in the ports.