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Concerns as Customs bans container evacuation by barges

Fresh concerns have risen among freight forwarders and other port users as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) places ban on the use of barges for evacuation of containers from the nation’s seaports.

According to a circular signed by Augustine Chidi, deputy comptroller general in charge of Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation, the Service alleged that barge operators were abusing the system by diverting containers to “illegal warehouses”.

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, said the ban takes immediate effect.

“The CGC in receipt of intelligence that the use of barges to evacuate containers in and out of our port is being abused to the extent that containers are being diverted to illegal warehouses. Consequently, I am directed to inform you that the use of barges to evacuate containers should stop with immediate effect. This is for immediate compliance please,” the circular reads.

Reacting to this, Tony Nwabunike, president, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said in a statement signed on Sunday, that the policy is trade frustrating and wicked.

He said the directive banning the use of barges to evacuate containers will impede efforts of other government agencies like the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in finding lasting solution to the easy of movement of goods through the waterways and to save the roads which are already in deplorable condition.

“We in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) are strongly opposed to this position and call on the Customs boss to address the matter through consultations and dialogue with all stakeholders in the industry,” the statement further reads.

 

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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