SALS decries moves of re-introducing pre-destination inspection at ports
The Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) has expressed concerns over speculations that pre-destination inspectors would return to the nation’s ports.
President of the Association, Jonathan Nicol, faulted the moves, stating that clamours of the maritime industry made the government to train officers of the Nigeria Customs Service for the job.
“The entire maritime stakeholders fought hard to bring back the Nigeria Customs to conduct Destination Inspection and the Government spent huge sums to train officials of the Nigeria Customs,” he said.
Describing the pre-inspection of cargo scheme as the “dark days”, Nicol said that shippers and importers lost huge sums annually, while the inspection programme deliberately left dilapidated equipment for the job on their exit.
He said: “Shippers and importers paid compulsory 1% Surcharge – and it sapped more than 28 billion Naira every year, as Inspectors regularly raised the value of goods indiscriminately “in their own opinion”.
“The equipment (Scanners) handed over to the Nigeria Customs were dilapidated and was a deliberate ploy to make the Customs Service fail.And now they are scheming to return back to the dark days of pre-inspection of cargo.”
He said the failure of government import policies enabled detractors to add to the woes of port users.
On the status of the Nigeria Customs Service in performance of generating revenue, Nicol said “The Nigeria Customs makes more than 1 trillion for 2 years consecutively without scanning machines. And Government is happy about their improvements. But, with this, the Customs Service will turn to ordinary workers without having a say on Revenue generation.”
He expressed satisfaction with the protection that shippers got through Nigerian Shippers’ Council, a channel to challenge excessive duty levied against members of the association.
The SALS President said it was unthinkable to leave such sensitive job to be handled by foreigners, who “cannot boast of any immovable investments in our country for the benefit of Shippers and Importers.”
He added that Shippers Associations were in agreement with the Vice-Chairman of The Association of Nigeria Customs Agent and other well-meaning stakeholders in this respect, and would definitely go to court to challenge the move in the re-introduction of the pre-inspection regime.