Port Decongestion: Customs Inaugurates Committee
BY FUNMI ALUKO
In an endeavor to expedite the decongestion of overcrowded ports burdened with an excess of overtime cargo, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, officially launched a committee on Disposal of Overtime Cargo on 8 November 2023, at the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters in Abuja.
This development arises in response to the new Customs Act’s provisions, which empower the NCS to dispose of containers that have exceeded their allotted time within the ports.
CGC Adeniyi emphasized that alleviating port congestion stands as a paramount objective for the Nigeria Customs Service, as well as President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, offering the promise of heightened efficiency and enhanced trade facilitation.
“It’s worth noting that approximately six months ago, the new NCS Act received the former President Mohammed Buhari’s signature, ushering in substantial modifications to the previous protocols governing the disposal of overtime cargo,” the CGC stated.
According to him, the provision of the NCS Act 2023 mandated that the disposal of cargo exceeding its allotted time can now only occur through a court order.
“The Act also stipulates that goods must be disposed of through public auction or tender, to be widely publicized in advance through national newspapers, television, and the service’s official website,” CGC explained.
In acknowledging the initiative, the General Manager of MD’s office, Nigerian Ports Authority, Durowaiye Ayodele, expressed his relief, highlighting the issue of over 7,000 overtime containers that have remained for years across the ports.
“We have containers that have been there for over ten years, occupying economic space for which we are unable to dispose. So this is a significant relief for our operations. We are delighted that we have reached a point where we can begin to remove some of these lingering containers and overdue cargo from the port,” he stated.
In his remarks, Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, in charge of Human Resources Development, Greg Itotoh, affirmed that with the support of the Nigerian Ports Authority, the changes and new procedures will ensure more streamlined trade operations.
The committee is set to be chaired by a senior officer from the Nigeria Customs Service. Its members include representatives from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Nigerian Police Force, the Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the National Agency for Food, Drugs and Control, a representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, among others.