By Uchenna Eletuo
Freight forwarders have again cried out over the unrestrained duplication of checks of containers cleared by customs authorities at Nigerian ports.
The freight forwarders said that the practice negated the ease of doing business idea being championed by the Federal Government.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday on the issue, the forwarders said that an administration fighting corruption should not allow the blatant corrupt practices of customs officials and other security agencies on highways in the country.
According to them, corruption is what necessitates the multiple checks by different units of the customs, especially the Strike Force and the Federal Operations Units of the agency.
A member of the National Council of Managing Directors of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Emeka Eletuo, told NAN that he was at a loss over the intention of various units of the customs, checking cargo that had already been cleared at various ports.
“We are daily told that the Federal Government is streamlining operatives to make the ports user-friendly yet customs officials are everywhere extorting money on cargo.
“Taking your released container out of port, your truck will be stopped by either the Strike Fore or the Federal Operations Unit of the same customs for another round of examinations.
”In most cases, nothing is wrong with your container but one rarely leaves the scene without parting with money after time wasting. Sometime, it takes a whole day.”
Eletuo told the authorities of the customs to call their men to order because their activities were portraying the current administration in bad light.
“They are scaring away investors in their bid to make hot cash. More so, this is against the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammed Buhari,’’ he stated.
Mr Obinna Okafor, Chairman of the Ikorodu Chapter of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, described the Strike Fore as a nightmare for freight forwarders and transporters.
“After having your goods released at the ports, you still have the so-called intervention units of the customs to contend with, making transactions difficult.”
Okafor said the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) should reshuffle its officers at the ports if the service no longer had confidence in them, instead of duplicating checks.
Meanwhile Mr Joseph Attah, National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, had said that the Strike Fore could only be called upon to be part of a joint container examination in cases of suspicious containers.
He said that it was illegal for the Strike Force to embark on regular container checks on highways. (NAN)