• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo


Barge operators seek written authorisation to formalise reversal of ban on operation

Apapa Port

Barge operators under the aegis of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), has called on the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to issue a circular that would officially authorise the reverse on the earlier ban on barge operation in Nigeria.

Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday, Edeme Kelikume, managing director of Connect Maritime Services, confirmed that members have started skeletal operations of evacuating cargoes from the port using barges.

According to him, few of the Customs’ commands have reverse to the latest policy of allowing operators to do their business while other commands have insisted that they can only allow cargo evacuation by barge if a formal circular to that effect is given to them by Customs management.

“It was on March 12 that we received a very strange circular from Customs putting a ban on our operations but after due consultation, the Comptroller General heard the cry of our operators and reserved the policy. Though, we are still waiting for a formal circular to formalise the reversal even though Customs management has assured us of the implementation of policy,” he said.

Stating that Nigeria is presently in a critical situation at a time when economics are being ravaged by Corovirus outbreak, crashing oil price and possible devaluation of naira, he pointed out the need to ensure that the Nigerian seaport functions effectively.

He called on Customs and other government agencies to always reach out to stakeholders before making critical decision and policies, even as he assured Customs of members’ readiness to help the service achieve its objective by complaining to the rule of engagement.

“We will also support and work with officials of Customs. We would not hesitate to report any member found to be engaging in any illegalities. We have enforcement team set up to work with NIWA, NPA and Customs to ensure compliance with the rules,” he assured.

Tony Iju Nwabunike, national president of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who noted that Customs has every right to make decision on cargo movement from the port, said the activities of barge operators contribute towards the revenue generated by Customs into the Federation account.

Related News

Nwabunike, who also called on Customs to fast track the issuance of circular to formalise the operations of barges, said that barging is one of the most effective means of moving cargo especially in the wake of port congestion and persistent gridlock in and out of ports in Apapa.

He however urged members of BOAN to abide by the rule of engagement, pointing out the need to ensure safety of containers on transit.

Recall that Customs in a circular signed by Augustine Chidi, deputy comptroller general in charge of Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation, placed ban on the use of barges for evacuation of containers from the nation’s seaports over alleged abuse of system and diversion of containers to “illegal warehouses”.

However, the content of the circular dated 12th of March and directed to all Area Controllers, Heads of Units, Sector Drill Commanders, Federal Operations Units and the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Strike Force, was subsequently  reversed few days later after due consultation with members of BOAN and other stakeholders.