The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has accused officers of the Nigeria Customs Service of the existing bottleneck in the process and procedures of cargo clearance at the ports.
STOAN ‘s Chairperson, Princess Vicky Haastrup stated this at the stakeholders meeting put together by the Federal Ministry Of Transportation in Lagos.
Even though she declined to give reasons on the bottlenecks caused by the customs, the STOAN boss informed the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Ameachi, that the Service had refused to change its modus operation in the cargo process and procedures thereby hampering the success of seamless operations in the port as well as increasing cost of doing business.
Haastrup who is also the Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium, operators of terminals C and D at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), pointed that the maritime sector has a very huge potentials bigger than Oil and Gas sector but added that lack of regulation and compliance by operators have denied the potentials from manifesting.
She argued that it is wrong to say terminal operators do not have equipment to work with saying, equipment is the bedrock of the operations of the concessionaires.
“One of the greatest problems we have in the port is the issue of Customs problem, we have said it over and over at every given opportunity but it does not seem that customs will want to change their attitude of doing business.
“Maritime sector, like we have always said, has a very huge potential.
Everything that the government is looking for is in the maritime sector. It is actually even bigger than oil if the right policies are in place and the right things are done by the people operating within the sector.
“Everyone is guilty of one thing or the other in the sector that is why we need the right policies to be passed by government. We need regulation; we need compliance in the part of everyone of us operating in the sector to bring down the cost of doing business.
“The young man who said terminal operators do not have equipment, I would not say he is lying but it is not true. There is no terminal operators who do not have equipment because equipment is actually the bedrock of our operations.
“NPA may go out and check and carry out due diligence and proper audit of all the terminal operators and see how much equipment we have.”Equipment could break down and when equipment breaks down, it is our fault and we will not charge anybody for what is not their fault because that is not the right way to do business.
“The ES of NSC said more cargo came into the country this year more than any other year, it is because Dangote is doing a huge project, when the project finishes, what happens?” She queried.
In a swift response the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, DC Joseph Attah said that delays are mostly caused by non compliance.
Attah added that Customs has no reason delaying any right import that is truthfully declared and appropriately paid.