Posted by News Express | 21 July 2018 | 3,607 times
Comrade Emeka Emmanuel Enwelu is the Chairman, Apapa Chapter of National Council of Managing Directors of Licenced Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and Managing Director of McManuel Global Logistics Limited, in this interview with Deputy Editor Foster Obi, he speaks on various issues and the need for Nigeria as a maritime nation to have a well defined national maritime policy, in order to fast track economic development in the industry.
News Express: Maritime sector is capable of generating more than double the current revenue recorded especially now that the economy is in a recession. What measures will you advise the government to put in place, in order to address the challenges in the industry?
Comrade Enwelu: Maritime is a large industry which gives us advantage to be a maritime nation, but now what Nigeria needs is a maritime policy. As a nation, we need maritime transport policy which will include road and rail transport. So, from that policy, our priorities and development plan will be to have the policy guidelines. When you are trying to have a master plan for the ports, it is not done in isolation of rail, road and inland water transport. You should incorporate all other modes of transports into it. The transport plan must be that, all ports are not congested, less traffic, seemingly zero human traffic.
What is your assessment of PAAR?
Historically, the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) Scheme was introduced by Nigeria Customs Service in December 2013, as a single window platform to fast track trade in the global village and ease tension experienced by Shippers and Manufacturers engaging in import and export business. Equally, the scheme is meant to reduce delays at seaports and border entry point. Above all, PAAR can only succeed when trading community alongside other government agencies involved in cargo clearance in the ports and borders are compliant.
At the pilot stage, the PAAR attracted negative criticism from stakeholders in the maritime industry especially importers, customs agent and freight forwarders. The condemnation against it has largely been due to inadequate query from customs. Today what we experience is that all disputes arising from valuation and classification are not properly handled.
In the contrary, PAAR is queried without Customs Intelligence Unit’s (CIU) investigation reports after physical examinations. Any input of alert will attract delay and demurrage which consequently will make cargo handling in Apapa port very costly and expensive.
Why is Apapa Customs losing about 70% of container on transire to bonded terminals?
Apapa Customs is losing about 70% of containers on transire to Bonded Terminals as a result of high cost of handling containers in Apapa port. We are calling on the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Customs Command, who is customs agents friendly to advise his sub-ordinates to have cordial relationship and better understanding with Licensed Customs agents in Cargo Clearance processes.
How does inconsistency in government policy affect your operations?
The volume of cargo clearance by clearing agents at the ports has dropped drastically due to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) foreign exchange restriction of some imported items. I urge the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review the policies. I also call on the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) to look into reviewing the 41 restricted items and to also address the challenges faced by clearing agents in receiving fraudulent alerts from customs valuation and classification units. For me, the influx of fake and substandard goods into the country is due to Federal Government’s instable policies and compromise on the part of officials of some government agencies at the port. The unstable policies of government has also made the officials of the agencies and trading public to be confused. I advise Customs to address the issues of documentation at the point of loading before arrival of any consignment for quick clearance.
I wish to call on Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC to build capacity by scrutinizng the standard of goods and documents properly at the point of loading to avoid unwarranted alert and safeguard the health and well being of the people.
What changes have you been able to make since you resume office as the Apapa Chapter Chairman of National Council of Managing Directors of Licenced Customs Agents (NCMDLCA)?
What the present executives of the chapter have done since inception is an eye opener to every practitioner in the freight forwarding sector. The present executive of NCMDLCA, Apapa Chapter has succeeded in establishing good working relationships with all major stakeholders and security agencies in the maritime sector. The name of the association has been projected to an enviable level. We have gotten a lot of recognition from sister associations because of our forward looking activities and especially our policy of educating our members and exposing them to practices which is obtained in the freight forwarding world. Therefore, training and retraining of our members is the key to moving the vision and mission of NCMDLCA to greater heights. The Apapa Chapter of NCMDLCA has put in immense investment in capacity building. “It is obvious that they will deliver if they have good training and if given the opportunity to put in practice what they have learnt”.
Physical examination and scanning of container, which would you prefer and why?
I prefer scanning because if there is any suspicion you will be referred for physical examination.
Why has 48 hours cargo clearance remained unachievable?
The Federal Government’s vision of achieving 48 hours cargo clearance at the seaport cannot be achieved without legal frame work and due to incessant alert from Customs, NAFDAC, SON, Shipping Companies which make it impossible to fulfill the objectives of trade facilitation for the nation. We are having various problems in the port today. There is traffic gridlock on port access roads and without holding bays. Our procedure does not meet up with international best practices. The traffic bottleneck is very critical. We cannot talk about 48 hours cargo clearance when we do not have legal framework, port procedures and operational processes.
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