Influx of tramadol:  Customs places containers with medicament on alert

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Stories by Seun Ibiyemi

Following the increased influx of containers laden with tramadol into the country through Apapa port, the Apapa Customs Command has said that all containers loaded with medicament are now placed on alert.

Speaking exclusively with newsmen at the command, its spokesperson, Nkiru Nwala said that placing cargoes on alert is just a word of caution in order for the concerned officers to be careful in releasing such cargoes.

In 2018, the command seized 41 units of 40ft containers of controlled pharmaceutical drugs, including tramadol with Duty Paid Value (DPV) N8.812billion.

Nwala also said that Customs Area Controller; Comptroller Bashir Abubakar has also streamlined all alerts at the command. According to her, the Comptroller has effected new strategies to ensure compliance by operators.

One of the strategies is the creation of a Compliance Seat and a Dispute Resolution Committee comprising the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) valuation unit, among others.

She also informed Shipping Position Daily that the command has suspended its usual monthly stakeholders meeting, because it was not yielding the expected results.

She said, “The command was not getting optimal results from these meetings, so it had to replan

“The CAC has its own strategy, it is not the crowd that matters, sometimes you discover that there are people who have little or nothing to do with the main issues, but when you break them, you have terminal operators and the real players, you get more results”.

She told our correspondent that Comptroller Bashir now meets stakeholders in small groups and that this has proven very effective and has produced results. According to her, no fewer than six professional groups have interfaced with the command between January and February and solutions have been proffered.

Speaking further, she said, “alert is just a word of caution, it is not every alert that means that there is an infraction, alert means ‘treat with caution’ ‘be thorough’ ‘be careful’ ‘seek for details.

“There are some alerted jobs that you can go through and nothing is found, but most people have a wrong perception of what alert is.

“For example now, with the hype around Tramadol, almost all medicament cargoes are alerted, the essence is that whoever is treating such consignment should treat with caution and be sure that what they declared is what is inside the container.

“Interpreting alert could mean that the officer should go for 100per cent physical examination so that you can be sure”

Nkiru added that some cargoes placed on alert usually have nothing offending or infractions in documentation, hence they are usually released, but where there is alert reveals infractions, the owner is allowed to pay debit note and take delivery.

She also informed that the 2, 500 export containers that were trapped at the command last year have been released to the owners.

Compt Bashir had announced in October 2018 that the 2,500 containers laden with various items for export at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), were detained over improper documentation including CCI certificates.

Nkiru said that the exporters have now taken delivery of their containers after following through with the right procedure.

She said “In the 2500 export containers, we have changed strategy completely at the export seat. The exporters later appealed and pledged their willingness to do the right thing, they did the right thing and they were allowed to go”

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