The Nigerian Customs Service has challenged the leadership of freight forwarding associations in Nigeria to put organisational mechanism in place that would identify and punish non compliant elements amongst them.
Assistant Comptroller General and Zonal Coordinator of Zone A headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service, ACG K.C Ekekezie gave this charge when she visited the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Thursday in Lagos.
Ekekezie who was accompanied by all the Customs Area Controllers in Zone A, comprising of Western commands acknowledged the support and co-operation of freight forwarders, but was quick to opine that to truly consolidate on the gains of that collaborative efforts, freight forwarding groups must put mechanism in place to encourage Integrity at all levels of the business, and also punish defaulters.
According to the ACG, “To truly consolidate the gains of our collaborative efforts, we as a group must endeavour to keep doing the good work we have started with the common purpose of enhancing our national economy and the well-being of the average Nigerian.
“To achieve this task of gain-consolidation, we must adhere to all extant regulations as provided by the government, this will not be much of a challenge once we are able to put a few organisational mechanisms in place, mechanisms that would help in identifying non- complaint elements while at the same time prescribing and administering appropriate corrective measures for specific breaches within the system “.
This the ACG believe would lead to an equally controlled and efficient national economic system.
Speaking further, the Zonal Coordinator acknowledged the the pivotal roles played by freight forwarders in cargo clearance in the ports.
“It is the pivotal role the freight forwarders play in the importation and release of goods that has made it a key organisation to consider when matters that border on the ease of doing business and the overall economic development of the nation are being discussed”.
She further stated that in recent times, government has tried to create a friendly environment for all players in the industry through the introduction of Ease Of Doing Business Initiative, and the recent app called reportgov.ng where business community can lodge in their complaints and get them resolved.
Speaking on the need for trade facilitation, the ACG said “it has always been the desire of the Nigeria Business Community that all entry and exit points for persons and goods be more user-friendly”. Hence the “Nigeria Customs Service has made significant improvement in its operations through the development of of improved ICT-driving processes to facilitate genuine trade and help reduce the cost of doing business coupled with adequate trainings of its personnel”.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the National President of NAGAFF, Chief Uche Increase who was represented by Mr Simeon Nwonu, Deputy National President, Headquarters said that NAGAFF was formed to usher in sustainable freight forwarding services in Nigeria.
He stated that NAGAFF has been working hard to achieve its set objectives through policy advocacy, adding that the association has been maintaining a good working relationship with Customs which is comparable to that of brothers and sisters.
Highlight of the visit was an interactive session where freight forwarders freely bared their minds on the various challenges they encounter with customs officers during cargo clearance. The ACG and her entourage took time to address all the issues raised to the satisfaction of the freight forwarders.