Cargo inspection and clearance now pass through 110 signatures from government officials before consignments are cleared from the Lagos Port Complex and Tincan Island Port in Apapa. A corruption risk assessment report released by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Bureau of Public Procurement, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme on Nigerian ports, noted that importers or agents required a minimum of 79 signatures of government officials to clear their goods at the nation’s gateways.
Also, it was learnt that before a manufacturer could get his raw materials out of Tincan Island Port, about 70 officials would inspect the cargoes and append their signatures to the documents. About 40 signatures are required for the same process at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs, described the slow clearance of cargo at the ports as one of the issues that had been hampering the manufacturing sector. The industrialists made the observation during an interactive session between the Nigeria Customs Service and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. In addition to the delay at the ports, Jacobs bemoaned the late response to complaints by members of the association.
He stressed the need for the decentralisation of the complaints unit of the NCS in the six geopolitical zones of the country as opposed to one location in order to address the challenge. Also, a manufacturer, who identified himself simply as Bagu, noted that physical examination of goods and scanning at the Tincan Island Port took longer than at the Apapa Port.
He added that the situation was not limited to imports but also extended to exports. Bagu said: “We are also into exports; it takes three days to close customs export entry in Apapa. At Tincan, it took me three weeks to close the entry. My goods had already reached their destination and we had to pay heavy demurrage; so, we stopped using them for exports.
“The 48-hour clearance is becoming a dream. The predecessor of the CG was working very hard to achieve the 48 hours clearance; I don’t see anybody discussing this again.”