Importers are using neighbouring ports as an alternative due to the government’s unfriendly import policies.
Over the years, ports in the south of the country have been the major points of entry for goods into Nigeria for consumption and transit into other countries.
According to Lucky Awemiro, President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licenced Customs Agents, the government’s unfriendly import policies led to the diversion of 60% of cargoes bound for Nigeria in 2016, a sharp increase from 40% in 2014.
According to Awimero, the majority of those goods, food products and utility goods, are shipped to neighbouring countries as an alternative.
Apart from the obvious problem of losing valuable revenue in form of tariffs and creating a shortage of consumer goods, this also compounds the job of the customs officer.
The cargoes, which are brought inland through neighbouring ports, are often smuggled into Nigeria through illegal routes. Preventing smuggling is the charge of the Nigerian Customs Service, which now has to deal with a growing problem despite operating with a limited workforce.
He also pointed out the role of freight forwarding agents play in facilitating shady transactions at the ports.
The duty of freight forwarders is to coordinate shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer to a final point of distribution, such as a warehouse or market.
According to Awimero, however, these agents are unduly helping importers to cut corners by evading duties and taxes at the ports.
He stated that access to the ports should be restricted to the companies authorised by the Nigerian Customs Service to clear cargoes.
Culled from Pulseng