By Innocent Orok
The National Vice President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince OLUSEGUN ODUNTAN has called on the Federal government , especially the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy and that of Works to take proactive steps in easing the truck manance along port access roads which is discouraging export trade. Prince Odutan made the call during a chat with some selected journalists in Lagos on Friday.
On the expectations of ANLCA from the government regarding Forex in the, Import, Export and Clearing process, Odutan said “What ANLCA have, especially this our regime knowing fully well that we are coming out from a crisis that we have all waved behind for peace to reign so that business can strive.
“What we have in mind is to inform the government what is right in the port industry and the port environment. Our expectations are for the Naira to come down and at the same time if we are saying Dollar should come down what about export that we are clamouring for because it is vise -versa and so it should go in between. We are encouraging our people to embrace export trade. Some are even going into agriculture so they can be exporting the proceeds. This will enable us to backup government moves and also urge our members to be compliant with government regulations. With our compliancy we will be able to dialogue with the government agencies and they will inturn listen to us. Clearing Agents are the one’s driving the port, but we are the least respected. The cargoes that are being rushed after at the ports belongs to us, people are collecting things left and right from the port, we that are fronting the preparation of the documentations, pay the duties, terminal, shipping, transporters and what have you, but still the least respected.
“Ours is to take the leadership position back so that all of us and our people coming behind can benefit from what ANLCA use to be in the past with total readiness to lead by example. Integrity is the outermost important now. We are also trying to collaborate with leadership of other clearing and freight associations to see how we can move this industry forward”.
On her the government can encourage export trade, Odutan said there are incentives such as export grants and others that can be given to people doing exports. He said ” the other issue is the port system environment, cargoes that are loaded with export goods find it difficult to enter our ports for weeks which is not suppose to be.
“In the process some of the goods will get spoilt due to the delay, which is very bad. That’s the issue of port access system, the ETO call-up system as far as am concern is a scam, it has to go. In Ghana, the access road to Tema port is not as big as ours here and you can never see any container littering the road, once it’s time for export goods to move in, they do it and if it’s time for import goods to come out, it follows suite. If you do not have anything to do in the port you will not access it.
” A lot of things to change in terms of orientation on our part as clearing agents apart from the government. Most times what we see on ground that makes export cargoes not to access the ports are human factors. People are fast improving on exportation now, but the problem we still have is how does the export goods get to it’s final destination thereby making the economy to loose a lot of Forex on that. Look at the the port corridor system, the rail suppose to work like 24/7, it should not be the road alone. It’s not every terminal that barge can access, some are double handling, while some are triple which you have to cost and the risk involved. There are lots of things to write out and proposed to the minister, if he want things to work out. We have made it known that we don’t intend to criticize anyone in government but we have to tell them the things that needs to be done for our survival and for the economy to move on.”
Speaking on the Nigeria Customs Service meeting its N5Trillion 2024 revenue target.
The ANLCA Chieftain said “Customs will generate their revenue because you are not paying anything if you don’t import anything. They have their calculation, it’s a projection by them that if by so and so period we were able to generate so so amount then we should be able to generate this and that amount for the year. They are being preemptive that they should be able to generate certain amount at a certain period based on past record.
“Possibility of generating their target shouldn’t raise fear for anyone, you just have to be optimistic about realizing it. As a business man or head of an agency, when doing your projection for the year you don’t have to stand and say I don’t think I can be able to make so so amount even when you know that you can only make little amount tell your staff the projection for the year is a high amount so as to make everybody sit tight and aim high.
“Meanwhile if the cargo is not there what can he do? The CGC is on appointment he is on a seat and he has to drive economy with all that is been expected from him. He can tell you the amount they intend to generate and that should not drive anybody anywhere. He has been talking to his officers, we can see a renew Customs now, people are happy doing the work and we agents have been talking to our people that it is better to be compliant than paying one levy or fine because you find out that there is no point if I have to pay a duty of #3 million for instance and I went and pay #1.6m and been given a DN, the penalty of 25% of that amount , it doesn’t make any sense. It’s better to be compliant from the onset that will give you peace of mind of a fruitful day at work.”
Talking on how to sanitize trucks littering the port access roads.
He said, ” we can all agreed as of today in the whole world that every economy, every system is been driven by improved technology, E- system control. So those private terminals are supposed to have a central gate where we have our cargoes there and after we release our cargoes we are suppose to be the one to give the code to a driver after collecting our TDO to go and load. Every driver would have done their biometric and when you have a cargo to take it’s either you present the code or the biometric to be able to access the terminal, with that you don’t have anything to do littering the road when you are not called up to pick anything.
“The major thing there is that we that process the cargo are supposed to be the one to give access to trucks and not NPA, they have outlived their usefulness and abused the process. What are they all rushing to do at the terminals when they don’t have any cargoes to pick”.
Finally, the ANLCA National Vice president urged his members to be compliant in their declarations and be hopeful that Nigeria will be better for all.
“Our members should be compliant this year while going about our businesses, and be hopeful and believe that Nigeria will be better for all of us in this new year.”