…Urges Government for Ports’ total lockdown!***
Freight forwarding guru, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam on Tuesday commended the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, Nigerian Shippers Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), on their concerted efforts for the security of cargo and port operators, especially within the COVID-19 trying period.
He, however, stressed that social distancing has been fully compromised in the ports cargo clearing system, and urged for a total lockdown of the ports, to avoid a massive endangering of the freight forwarders’ lives.
Aniebonam made the observation, in a statement he sent to the Maritime First, even as he tasked the Nigeria Customs Service to show more commitment, by directing its officers and men to urgently deploy all tools of trade facilitation principles within tolerable limit.
“This simply means that the NCS can evoke its powers as contained under section 27 and 28 of CEMA (bill of sight) to deal with cargo clearance out of customs control at the western ports”, the Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said.
He stressed that, “It is the opinion of NAGAFF that under this critical circumstance in our nation’s life, that every effort and sacrifices have to be made by the public and private sector groups. And for the records, PAAR is an advisory document and risk management tool for the service operations. But the truth remains that proper customs examination is the arbiter on matters of untrue declarations for customs purposes”.
While appreciating the humanitarian nature of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially as it affects the poor ones, he maintained that the truth remains that issues of stemming the rampaging Coronavirus must not be half measures.
“NAGAFF is still advising that all commercial activities at the customs ports and border locations must stop for the next 21 days. This is because the policy of social distancing can not work at customs ports at the moment.
“Let us not be deceived by anybody speaking from our informed position.
“About 20years ago, NAGAFF advised government about the establishment of truck terminals, when we noted the 2nd degree of our port development, wherein factories were springing up within the port domain.
“Nobody listened and, today it is a major problem with the trumped-up call-up system.
“What we are again advising is that our ports should be shut down to commercial activities. This is the time to appreciate the establishment of our Terminals meant to cushion issues of port congestion.
“In other words, the Government should shutdown every commercial activities and move the incoming cargo to the outer terminals with few numbers of dedicated staff and haulage trucks.
“We can then ensure that anybody coming into Nigeria at our entry points can be properly screened.
“NAGAFF is worried that any half measures on our part to stem the tide of Coronavirus may place us in the same template with Italy, God forbid.
“NAGAFF is aware of the need for government revenue, but to us, Mr. President should not worry himself, because those who stole all our money, the majority are in Nigeria, since they can not escape to other countries.
“And if they want to escape with their private jets, it’s only Mr President that shall give such approval and we know he will never do so.
“As far as NAGAFF is concerned, the Presidential speech was very clear, to the extent that the ports were technically shutdown.
“And for the Freight Forwarding practioners, take note that our principals are seated in the comfort of their homes and push you to the ports where social distancing policy directives may be in breach.
“It is the duty of NAGAFF to protect all its members and indeed Mr President did not ask us to do so in his declaration.
“However, because we are human beings, we are at liberty to make choices which may be good or bad depending on our needs.
“It is the belief of NAGAFF that practioners are being lured to the ports for bribe-taking to continue.
“Be that as it may, we want to thank the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Registrar of CRFFN, who have been making every effort to secure the life of freight forwarders and logistics services, thereto, to lessen their avoidable hardships in the customs ports at the moment.
“We equally want to appeal to the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) to direct the Deputy Comptroller General ENF and, Tariff & Trade to relocate to Lagos and oversee all operations within this two weeks; and as the case may be, to enhance trade facilitation principles in reality”, Aniebonam stated further charging stakeholders to adopt every measure that guarantees their safety.