Agents Seek Intervention In Trade Disruption At Tin-Can Port

We have not received any complaint, says Customs.

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Clearing agents operating at the Tin-Can Island Port have called on the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, to check the activities of its Compliance Team impeding trade facilitation at its Tin-Can Island Command.

The agents, in a chat with journalists, said the Compliance Team, which was created in 2019, is the brainchild of the Customs Area Controller, Compt. Musa Baba Abdulahi, to check infractions in duty payment by importers and clearing agents before they exit the seaport.

They accused the team of frustrating trading by slamming Debit Note (DN) on already-cleared cargoes, thereby taking over the responsibilities of the Customs Valuation Unit.

A clearing agent, Chukwu Nwanne, bemoaned the activities of the Compliance Team, which he described as anti-trade as entrenched by the Customs.

He said: “When you obtain a valuation, before your document gets to where you want to release it, the team has already issued you a Debit Note (DN) wanting you to come and negotiate.

“The major challenge we have right now is that the Compliance Team, which was established by the Area Controller is frustrating importers. They are not doing what they are created to do; what they ought to be doing is to pinpoint to the Controller of any infraction.”

He continued, “The Valuation Department of the Tin Can Island Command has lost their relevance because whenever they issue value on cargoes it doesn’t hold water, the Compliance Team is now the one giving DN to clearing agents. This is a duplication of duty.”

Another clearing agent, Ikechukwu Onyeka, urged the Customs management to address the duplication of duties at the Tin-Can Island Command.

He alleged that the CAC Compliance Team was issuing DN indiscriminately, thereby hampering trading and evacuation of cargoes from the seaports.

“The operation of the Compliance Team has been going on since last year. They have taken over the job of the Valuation Unit,” he concluded.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, TinCan Island Command, Uche Ejiesieme, described the allegation as unfounded, adding that the Command has not received any complaint of such.

He clarified that the Compliance Team is saddled with the responsibility of providing oversight functions to all the other components of the unit to ensure checks and balances.

“If anybody feels aggrieved, he is expected to exploit the many platforms we created for complaints, and it will be addressed. I can tell you categorically that nobody has lodged any specific complaint. If we get this, I can assure you that the issue will not be swept under the carpet,” he said.

– The Guardian

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