Protest aftermath: Agents abandon consignments at PTML

Following protest at the Ports & Terminal Multiservice Ltd (PTML) Customs command on Monday and Tuesday by clearing agents who apparently were not happy with the new Customs exchange rate for vehicular cargoes, findings have revealed that many vehicles have been left un-cleared at the PTML terminal.

In a chat with an agent who specialises in vehicular cargo clearance at the ports, Chukudi Nwatu, “we cannot accept the new duty imposed by the Customs. Customs should have informed us before going ahead with the implementation.

“How do we make profit from what we have? Most of our jobs have been premised on the old exchange rate. How do we go back to our customers to tell them that the money they gave us cannot clear our consignment?

“I have already spent part of the money which is my profit during the long holiday, and was expecting to clear the container with the remaining money only to get to the ports and be told that everything has changed as regards exchange rate for vehicles.

“How do I explain this to my client? Where do I raise such money from? I have left the vehicles in the ports with the hope to raise some funds to come and clear it. Same goes for some of my colleagues. There are many containers containing vehicles at the ports that have been abandoned. We just hope they can grant us some waiver for these jobs. We will then start complying on the new exchange rate for subsequent jobs.”

When contacted, the Spokesman of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) PTML Command, Steve Okomah admitted that the service is currently negotiating with leaders of the clearing agents to see how the issue can be resolved. He however denied that vehicles are been left at the ports un-cleared.

Speaking to Nigerian Tribune in an exclusive chat, Steve Okomah stated that, “There was protest over the new exchange rate at PTML on Monday and Tuesday, but the situation concerning the new exchange rate is beyond us. It is a Federal Government policy which we have no choice than to key into.

“No agent has abandoned their vehicles. Series of meeting are ongoing between the agents and the Customs over this issue. Maybe we should have notified them before they came back from the long break as regards the new rule.

“Some agents are already complying with the new development because they know it’s not a Customs affair, it’s a government policy.”

Also when contacted, the General Manager, PTML Terminal Kayode Keshiro told Nigerian Tribune that if some agents decide not to clear their containers, it is at their own peril.

“If Customs amended the exchange rate, such amendment is just a unit of the whole importation transaction. Don’t forget that in importation business and procedure, there are elements of Form M.

“To those who open proper Form M and are complaint, nobody is stopping them from clearing their consignments. If Customs hike or increase the exchange rate, the agents should inform the importer, provided they have proper evidence of the change in exchange rate,” Keshiro stated.