Charges: Agents issue 21 days ultimatum to shut down seaports

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has issued a 21 days ultimatum to the general Public that its members will be withdrawing their services if arbitrary charges being collected by shipping companies agents, Nigerian Police Force and some other government agencies in the ports are not stopped.

A statement signed on Friday by ANLCA’s National Publicity Secretary, Kayode Farinto explained that the association gave the ultimatum after a National Executive Committee meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday.

According to the statement, “ANLCA having met for 2 days, 15th through 16th of March,2017, has articulated the problems militating against cargo clearance from Nigerian ports as follows:

“That the Nigeria Customs Service as the prime statutory agency at the ports engages in a practice that is tantamount to approbating and reprobating. The Nigeria customs service issues the Pre -Arrival Assessment Reports (PAAR),undertakes the assessment and subsequently release of cargoes from the ports with multiplicity of units in the clearance chain which are unnecessarily encumbered by incessant alerts and arbitrary jack up of customs duties which is not in compliance with the international valuation principles (Which is General Agreement on Tariff and Trade-Article V11, GATT) as domesticated into valuation Acts and then constitute units that intercept the same duly exited cargoes within 500 meters radius of the ports.

“That where underpayments of customs duty are alleged, the Customs unilaterally blocks (suspends) the Customs agents licences which is not in tandem with section 154 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).

“That the Federal government through  the Nigerian  Ports Authority’s insistence on collecting dollars from Terminal operators on (a) Throughput fees, (b) Gauranteed minimum tonnage (c) Lease Agreement (Dollarization of payement) has compelled the seaport terminal operators to engage in arbitrary increase of terminal charges  since they collect their charges in Naira, jettisoning  the proviso in the concession agreement which states that stakeholders must be consulted before such increases are made.

“That shipping agencies who are ordinarily the local representatives of the shipping lines also engage in arbitrary increase and introduction of multiple charges outside the approval by the Nigerian Shippers council.

“That the Nigeria Police Force has abandoned their statutory role of .providing security at the ports to engage in stoppage of cargo delivery at shipping companies and terminals under the guise of conducting investigation.

“That the “must settle me” syndrome in the activities of such other agencies as DSS, NDLEA, Plant Quarantine, etc have excerbated the corrupt tendencies in the maritime industry.

“That the  Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON),though with a lofty and patriotic agenda of minimising the entry of sub-standard goods into the country appears to have abandoned it’s statutory role of regulation and is now a revenue generating agency through imposition of high charges for her services.

“The National Executive Council of ANLCA therefore concludes that the activities of the government agencies and private organisation’s mentioned above are inimical to trade facilitation and does not conform with international best practice which have made Nigerian ports to be the most expensive within the West African sub region.

“In view of the foregoing, the Association of Nigerian Licensed customs agents (ANLCA) hereby issues a 21-day notice to the general public that it’s members nationwide will be compelled to withdraw their services, which will in turn shut down the ports, if these pressing issues are not addressed forthwith.”