The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has described 2017 as a bad year for clearing agents due to unfavorable government policies, which it said led to the diversion of Nigeria-bound cargoes to the ports of neighboring countries.
National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto who spoke in a chat on Wednesday in Lagos, also identified the poor state of port access roads as a major challenge faced by Customs agents and other operators in 2017. He accused government of insensitivity to the plight of the industry.
Farinto said the controversial cargo pillarization policy of the government, which took effect January 1, will not only increase the cost of doing business but will further delay cargo clearance at the ports.
According to him, “I would not say 2017 was a good year for agents because there was no eureka. We had challenges, especially unfavorable policies of government. The poor state of the port access road was also a major challenge for us. You load container, but you will not be able to deliver as at when due to the bad conditions of the roads.
“The issue of pillarization which is now a compulsory thing will also be a challenge. The government ought to look at issue of scanners instead of insisting on palletizing all imports. It will not add any value to cargo clearance, but cost and it is the final consumer that suffers it.
“Now, Cotonou port has an understanding with Antwerp port on most of the imports and I won’t be surprise if importers now divert their imports to Cotonou because of the issue of pillarization. The policy on pillarization spells that if you don’t conform, you are expected to pay 25 percent of Free On board (FOB) through customs and these are things that are not too healthy for our industry. We hope the government jettisons it.”
The ANLCA spokesman however expressed hope that 2018 will be a better year for agents in view of the assurance by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali to address some operational challenges faced by Customs agents in the course of cargo clearance.