Haulage Fare Hike: Stakeholders Kick, Issue 7 Days Ultimatum

Mohammed Shosanya

Importers/exporters,shippers and F
freight forwarders operating in the Eastern ports of the country have unanimously rejected an alleged 200 percent increase in haulage fare by the Nigerian Shippers council (NSC) in connivance with the transport unions, Maritime flat and cargo and the Freight Forwarding transport, lamenting its impending inflationary effect should the alleged hike is allowed to stand.

The body threatened operational shot down as they declared a 7 day ultimatum during which the NSC is expected to return to status quo ante by reversing the hiked rate.

They conveyed their position on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital while analyzing impending inflationary effects on the masses if the hike is not moderated and allowed to stand.

Mr Joshua Ahuama, Zonal Coordinator, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) noted that the meeting became necessary to enable the body collectively reject the new rate as it contravened the provisions of the NSC, Act.

According to him,stakeholders consultation was an integral provision of the agency’s Act, wondering why the agency did not utilize such, as he noted that several protest letters have been written to the Nigerian Shippers council rejecting the hiked fare.

“Recently, the NSC had approved a 200 percent increment on haulage rate for transport owners and drivers operating under the maritime union of Nigeria.”

“To this end,Importers and Freight forwarders association in the Eastern zone have unanimously disputed the new rate because it is outrageous, arbitrary and unacceptable to all stakeholders in the zone.”

“We have however, resolved to adopt all peaceful efforts, we started this move on March 14, 2024, by calling on the NSC to ensure proper stakeholders engagement and renegotiation”

“These measures are also expected to help all parties reach a benchmark that would be in the interest of all stakeholders in the maritime value chain.

“We also urge the NSC to return to status quo ante by suspending implementation of the disputed rate pending proper renegotiation covering the interest of all stakeholders.

“We are not on a selfish course, our demands are in the interest of Nigerians because any slight increase in haulage rate will reflect on prices of goods in the open market, a businessman incorporates total logistics cost into prices of goods.,” he said.

But,the Nigerian Shippers council has said that the newly approved rate took into consideration the cost, moderation and other cargo transport issues.

The group,however, noted that they may be constrained to take drastic measures that may include suspension on all declaration of goods and payment of Customs duties which could negatively affect national revenue and economic output.

Some members of the Import and Export association who were present at the meeting included; Nigeria Shippers Association, Aba International Traders Association, Ultimate Importers Association, POP Importers Association, Nnewi Importers Association and Onitsha Importers Association.

Others were African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), RF Transportation Incorporated, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, amongst others

Customs Begins Auction Of Seized Food Items

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday commenced sale of seized food items to vulnerable Nigerians to address hunger across the country.

The Comptroller General of the Service, Adewale Adeniyi stated this on Tuesday on the floor of the House of Representatives during the sectoral debate series which also had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari.

According to him,President Bola Tinubu has directed that food items produced in Nigeria and seized at the Nigerian land borders, be sold directly to vulnerable Nigerians to ease the challenge of hunger in the country.

He said: “Mr President has directed that we sell directly to needy Nigerians food items produced locally but which were seized. This is one of the ways to address hunger and food scarcity we are facing. We have started this in Lagos.

He also said, the President has directed that imported food items seized by the Nigeria Customs Service should be sold back to the local markets for resale to Nigerians”

NIMASA To Install Modular Floating Dock

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration NIMASA has commenced preparations to deploy the Modular Floating Dock.

On Tuesday,the agency moved the Floating Dock to a jetty at the Standard Flour Mills in Apapa in preparation of its movement to the scheduled operational base at the Continental Shipyard, Apapa.

Osagie Edward, Assistant Director, Public Relations of NIMASA,who disclosed this in a statement,said the heavy 50-ton cylindrical spuds, which are for anchoring the dock, are being prepared for installation.

“We are moving slowly but steadily to our destination. Today, we are lifting out the cylindrical studs to be prepared for piling at the Continental Shipyard where the Floating Dock is scheduled to commence operations. These spuds have to be firmly installed before we can tow the Floating Dock there. We assure stakeholders that very soon, Nigeria will save foreign earnings with the commencement of operations of our Dock”, the agency stated.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA),had leased designated areas at the Continental Shipyard for the operations of the Modular Floating Dock last year.

The areas include; the Dolphin Jetty, waterfront of the jetty adjourning the slipway, an administrative block, a construction, welding and mechanical workshop and a civil maintenance workshop, among others.

Currency Swap,Others Frustrated Our 2023 Revenue Target- NCS

Mohammed Shosanya

Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service,Bashir Adeniyi has said the combined effect of the 2023 general election, the naira redesign policy and other economic decisions of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration made it impossible for the Nigeria Customs Service to meet its 2023 revenue target.

He stated this at an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise on Wednesday.

The interactive session was on the review of the Service’s 2023 budget performance and its 2024 proposed budget.

He said: “The uncertainties and anxiety towards 2023 elections and suspension of excise on single use plastics, carbonated drinks, telecommunications VAT affected Customs revenue.

He added that, other major causes were the cash crunch, currency redesign which he said also contributed a lot to the revenue in the first half of 2023 as Cargo throughput also reduced drastically in the year under review.

Adeniyi said Nigeria Customs Service generated a total sum of N3.21 trn in the year 2023.

Adeniyi told the lawmakers that though the service targeted the sum of N3.67 trn in the outgone year, it was only able to generate N3.21 trn owing to a combination of factors.

He declared that men and officers of the NCS will work diligently to generate N5.08 trn for the nation in 2024.

He said:“In 2023, the revenue target for the service was N3.67tran and remarkably, the service collected a total revenue of N3.21trn from January to December 2023.

“When we compare what we collected in 2023 to what was projected as our targets, there was a negative variance of N462.9 bn, which represents 12.62 per cent of what was approved as revenue targets.

“Though we didn’t achieve what we projected, but we want to say with all sense of modesty that we did our best. And when we consider all factors, we will appreciate the fact that we at NCS did the best we could.

He listed import of goods under the common external tariff , import duty exemption certificate, uncertainties and anxieties as some of the factors that contributed to the inability of the service to meet its revenue target for 2023.

“One of the factors was the huge import of goods under Chapter 99 of the common external tariff, which resulted in a revenue loss of over N2trn. When we compare this to the total revenue that we had, that was a whopping 63.35 per cent of our total revenue collection.

“Also, revenue due to import duty exemption certificates and other statutory provisions for the year (2023) was also in the region of N1.8 trn which was about 58.52 per cent of the total revenue generated. Cargo throughput dropped from 17.2 per cent to 15 2 per cent during the year,” he added.

“For 2024 fiscal year, this target stands at 5.079 trillion and this consists of 3.423 trn in federation accounts, N554.35 bn for non-federation accounts, and N1.101 trn for import Value Added Tax,” he added, noting that “When we compare what was targeted in 2023 and 2024, this year’s target is higher by N1.41 trn, or approximately 27.75 per cent over the 2023 budget.

The NCS boss identified some key assumptions he said would assist the service in meeting its financial targets for 2024, saying, “We are hoping that the 2024 fiscal policy measure would be rolled out in good time so that it would help the implementation. The second is tied to the issue of national single window. The project which has lingered on for quite some time is now being pursued very vigorously for better process ammonization and standardization. The inauguration of the steering committee has been approved by Mr President, and I’m very sure in the next few days, the steering committee would be inaugurated.

“The third driver is the introduction of the Vehicle Registration System and the Vehicle Identification Number valuation application, which has a huge potential for reducing undervaluation and vehicle tax evasion, thereby improving our revenue collection.”

Adeniyi also told the committee that NCS proposed a budget expenditure of N706.43bn in the 2024 fiscal year. This sum, he noted would be sourced from multiple avenues, saying “We hope to start the implementation of drawing from the 4 per cent Free On Board in 2024 and from this source, we expect an inflow of N623.83 bn. From 2% VAT share for NCS, we project N22.02 billion.

The last is funds that we are rolling over from ongoing capital projects, amounting to a total of N60.58 bn. This will give us a total of N706.43bn.”

Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide pledged the readiness of the lawmakers to help reposition the NCS in its task of realizing its revenue target for the nation.

He charged the NCS boss to prioritise e-customs and the integration of Artificial Intelligence in manning the nation’s border stations.

Lekki Deep Seaport Berths Largest Container Vessel On Nigerian Waters

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Ports Authority on Sunday, said the Lekki Deep Seaport has received the largest container vessel to sail on Nigerian territorial waters.

NPA said in a statement that the vessel christened, ‘Maersk Edirne’, measured 367m in length.

The Managing Director of NPA, Mr. Mohammed Bello-Koko, in the statement explained that the vessel had a breadth of 48.2 and carried a gross registered tonnage of 142,131metric tonnes.

The management of the deep seaport had in June 2023, announced the arrival of Rimbaud, the first transshipment vessel to call at the container terminal of the deep seaport. The management added that the vessel came with cargo from two of the largest container shipping lines in the world, CMA CGM and Maersk.

Speaking on the recent carrier, Bello-Koko said, “The new vessel had a dead weight tonnage of 147,340 metric tonnes, constituting 3,376 total cargo onboard. The vessel was navigated by the highly experienced and thoroughly equipped pilots of the NPA,”

He said the development validated the assurance given by the agency, during the signing of the presidential/ministerial performance bond in December 2023 that, “the authority under my watch is poised to provide the leadership and technical guidance required to maximise the potentials inherent in our marine and blue economy,”

He commended the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, for the consistent support and endorsement of the authority’s initiatives, “and investments in employee upskilling and equipment renewal which made this milestone seamlessly achievable,”

He added, “Before this time, the largest commercial vessels to sail on Nigerian waters were ‘MV Stadelhorn’ and ‘MSC Maureen’ at Onne Port and Tincan Island Port Complexes respectively. Thus the berth of a ship measuring 367 meters at Lekki Deep Seaport represents a quantum leap forward.

“The Lekki Deep Seaport has by this feat in addition to its pioneering of full automation and facilitation of transshipment proven its readiness to exceed stakeholders’ expectations.”

Customs FOU Zone C,Decorates Officers, Seizes N5.3bn Goods

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit FOU, Zone “C” Owerri,has decorated 46 newly promoted officers in the zone even as it also recorded seizures worth five billion, three hundred and fifty-one million, eight hundred and twenty six thousand, three hundred and ninety Naira (N5,351,826,390.00) only in total Duty Paid Value (DPV) in the 2023 fiscal year.

This was contained in a press release made available to our correspondent by the Zone’s public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC) Jerry Attah Wednesday.

The breakdown of the promotion shows that three officers were promoted from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC) to the rank of Assistant Comptroller (AC); Five officers from Superintendent of Customs (SC) to Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC) and Three officers from the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Customs (DSC) to SC.

Besides,two officers from Assistant Superintendent of Customs I (ASC I) to DSC; six from ASCII to ASC I; Seventeen from IC to ASCII ;eight from Assistant Inspector of Customs (AIC) to IC and one person from Customs Area I (CA I) to AIC.

Among those promoted were the Zone’s Public Relations Officer, Jerry Attah, who was promoted from Superintendent of Customs (SC) to Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC).

The Zone “C” Comptroller, Kayode Kolade, while decorating the promoted officers, on Wednesday, described the seizures as a result of hard-work, resilience, dedication to duty and commitment of his men and officers.

Some of the items seized, he said, were pangolin scales, foreign parboiled rice, cannabis sativa (AKA Indian hemp), fake pharmaceutical products, tramadol, used vehicles, used tyres, used clothing and explosive raw materials among others.

Kolade stated that as a result of the interventions of his officers in checkmating the activities of fraudulent agents at the seaports, lots of revenues, hitherto lost, have been recovered to the tune of One hundred and fifty two million, four hundred and ninety-two thousand,two hundred and fourteen naira (N152,492,214.00) only even as he charged the promoted officers to live above board and continue to justify the confidence reposed in them by the service.

Thanking the Comptroller-General, Wale Adeniyi for his continued support and fatherly disposition which he attributed to the promotion of officers and eased up the activities of officers, he said, “Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the Comptroller-General of Customs, Wale Adeniyi MFR and his management team through the Board of the NCS for this privilege and promise our determination and zeal to perform even more as we wear our new ranks.”

He noted that, “New rank comes with new and more responsibility and we must deliver on our mandate.One thing that is constant in life is change”

He reiterated that the recent promotion would bring changes in the roster and that officers and men of the service must justify their relevance on duty assignments.

Bribery:Tin Can Island Customs Hands Over $54,330 To EFCC

Mohammed Shosanya

The Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, has reiterated the zero compromise for corruption stance of the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi.

He said this when he handed over $54,330 bribe money to Lagos Zonal Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , Mr. Michael Wetkas.

The Tramadol were falsely declared as electrical appliances valued at over N856m with a view to conceal them while the cash were offered to compromise the customs officers,a statement said.

He said the act is in clear violation of Section 233 of Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCAA) 2023 and commended the officers who stood their grounds to work ethically and lawfully in the interest of national security

He further advocated the need for continuous compliance on the part of port users and reminded them that the NCS with the collaboration of sister agencies like EFCC will continue to frustrate criminal activities in the port

He thanked Comptroller Oloyede, who under his watch, this seizure was achieved and described him as a good example of the NCS.

He said the two suspects arrested in connection with the two containers are currently being investigated by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control for possible prosecution.

Receiving the cash,Mr. Michael Wekas,
described the feat as a victory for the country and to all the security agencies. He specifically celebrated the officers of the NCS that achieved it.

He also lauded the the Comptroller General for the letter of commendation in appreciation of the six customs officers who refused to bow to pressure and inducement from the owners of the illicit drugs.

He promised continued collaboration between the EFCC, NCS and sister agencies. According to him, the era of working without collaboration is gone as the agencies now work closer

Oyo/Osun Customs Rakes In N11bn,Renews War Against Smuggling

Mohammed Shosanya

Oyo/Osun Customs command raked in the sum of ₦11,679,732,583.91k
between September and October,2023.

Its Area Commander,Ibadan,Comptroller Ben Oramalugo,disclosed this in his maiden press briefing at the command headquarters in Ibadan,on Friday,

He disclosed that since my assumption of duty on 18th September 2023, several laudable achievements have been accomplished and aimed at enhancing trade facilitation, and revenue generation and suppression of smuggled, and prohibited items within the Command’s area of responsibility.

He said: “During the period covering September to October 2023, the Command through its rigorous enforcement measures and strategic initiatives has contributed to the economic growth of the Nation by collecting the sum of ₦11,679,732,583.91k, as revenue into the coffers of the Federal Government.

He also noted that when added to the revenue collected for the period covering January to August 2023, the Command has collected a Sum of ₦59,087,983,670.64k (Fifty Nine Billion, and Eighty Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty Three Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventy Naira, Sixty Four Kobo).

He said:”This feat is made possible by our resolve to continue to prioritize trade facilitation, religiously enforce provisions of our extant laws aimed at facilitating legitimate trade, implementation of various measures to simplify Customs processes, reducing bureaucracy within the system with the aim of promoting legitimate trade and foster a conducive business environment for Excise traders operating within the Command’s area of responsibility.”

Speaking on anti-smuggling operations of the command under his watch, Comptroller Ben,said, “During the period under review, the Command with use of intelligence and continuous patrol operations has made series of interceptions comprising 1,248 (50kg) bags of Rice with duty paid value worth
N27,456,000.00, 425 kegs of 25 litre of petroleum (PMS) with duty paid value worth N2,125,000.00, used clothings and used bags, 24 Bales of used clothing’s worth duty paid value of
N4,320,000.00, N180,000.00 respectively, 492 pieces of Used tyres with duty paid value of N2,952,000.00, 64 sacks and 150 wraps of cannabis sativa (weighing 777.5kg) with duty paid value of
14,138,460.00 and One (01) Dane Gun
9,000.00, all totalling at N51,180,460.00.”

Customs Seizes 8 Trailers Of Smuggled Rice,35,100 Litres Of Fuel

Mohammed Shosanya

The operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Lagos have intercepted and seized 8 trailer of foreign parboiled rice from smugglers.

The unit said that 35,100 litres Of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 1,100 litres of diesel, among other goods were also seized.

Acting Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi disclosed in Lagos at the weekend during a press briefing.

He said: “Beyond the parboiled rice seizures, our operations yielded significant results in September, with the interception of various goods. These include 35,100 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS) 1,100 liters of diesel 1×40-foot container carrying 360 bales of used clothes; 1×40-foot container containing 150 cartons of ladies’ handbags, 50 bales of nickers, and other falsely declared items,1× 20-foot container of unprocessed wood; 106 cartons of foreign frozen poultry, 55 pieces of used fridges, 110 pieces of used compressors, 148 cartons of foreign soap, 121 cartons of expired hair oil and 25 units of vehicles (Tokunbo).”

He explained that the essence of the briefing at the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ in Ikeja, Lagos, was to address a matter of utmost significance to “our nation’s economic well-being. Today’s briefing pertains to the commendable interception of approximately eight trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice by the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ on October 6, 2023.”

He added that agriculture, being the cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, underscored the federal government’s commitment to achieving self-sustaining growth and enhancing the quality of life for all Nigerians.

“In alignment with this commitment and the spirit of patriotism, our dedicated officers executed a series of operations resulting in the interception and seizure of 7,029 of 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice. These decisive actions took place at various times and locations within the border corridors of the South-Western states. The objective was two fold: to discourage potential traders from engaging in smuggling activities and to inflict financial losses on active smugglers.”

He said that investigations into some of these seizures are on-going.

He said,fourteen suspects have been apprehended in connection with various offenses, including violating import/export guidelines, concealment, undervaluation, wrong classification, smuggling, and contravening policy directives.

“The cumulative duty paid value of the intercepted goods amounts to an impressive N1,755,080,898.

“Furthermore, the Unit generated N72,807,025.11 in revenue through meticulous documentary checks and the issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have paid lesser amounts than the appropriate customs duty.

“Importers and licensed agents are urged to make sincere declarations, adhere to existing import and export guidelines, and avoid the risk of losing their investments. “Compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a strategic choice that ensures the smooth and efficient flow of goods across our borders,” Adeniyi added.

Oyetola Woos Investors As Nigerian Ports Begins Full Automation Soon

Mohammed Shosanya

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola,has implored investors to take advantage of the opportunities and partner with the new Ministry to drive development

He said this in Abuja, when he received a renowned entrepreneur and sustainability expert, Prof. Gunter Pauli, who is on a three-day visit to Nigeria.

He noted that the Nigerian water ways have enjoyed adequate security with no single incidence of piracy for the past two years.

He added:”We have sufficient control of our ocean in terms of security and there has been nothing like piracy in our ocean. So, the fear of investors about the safety of their investments is out of it now.”

According to a statement by Henshaw Ogubike, Director, Press and Public Relations,
Oyetola also disclosed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will soon commence the implementation of full automation and cargo tracking across the various ports in the country to promote Port efficiency and Ease of Doing Business.

He stated that the Federal Government is keen on the diversification of the Nigerian economy away from the oil industry, hence, it was intentional when it created the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

“Again, we are going to be talking of automation of ports to make them more efficient. I would like to tell you that in another two years, it will all change. We are bringing in automation and cargo tracking as we are working on that for implementation”, he said.

He added that the government is interested in partnering with relevant stakeholders under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to maximize and explore the resources of the ocean sector for rapid economic development, improve the livelihood of its people and create jobs as well as preserving the health of the ecosystem.

He said: “Seventy percent of the resources that are available actually comes from the ocean, and we have it in abundance here”.

” I believe in the Public Private Partnership arrangement. The government will create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and our concept in dealing with these, is purely in PPP, and I see quite a lot of opportunities there”

Speaking earlier during the visit, Professor Gunter Pauli said his team was in Nigeria to partner with the Ministry on commercial and technological innovations and job creation around the sector. He argued that his partnership with the Ministry will attract foreign and local investments that would create a lot of opportunities for the Nigerian youths.