Customs Order On Physical Examination: Importers To Spend N9.1m On Demurrage Daily

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Importers will now be spending a whooping N9.1million to terminal operators daily as demurrage as an aftermath of of order by the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) that officers should begin 100 per cent physical examination on all containers coming into the country through seaports and land borders, LEADERSHIP Friday checks have revealed.

The NCS had recently intercepted a container containing 661 pump-action rifles imported into the country through the Lagos Port, which sources said was not dropped for examination.

While the directive to commence physical examination has been commended, it was gathered that Customs can only examine four out of every 400 containers positioned by terminal operators on a daily basis.

Also, about 250 TEUs are positioned on a daily basis at Tin-Can port, with the possibility of Customs examination officers examining about 20 across all terminals daily.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a top management staff at the largest container terminal in Apapa port said the terminal positions 400 TEUs daily and with Customs directive of 100 per cent examination of containers, it can barely physically examine five containers in a day.

He, however, said that physical examination meant more money for them because importers and Shippers will pay more.

“100 percent physical examination will mean demurrage for us an that will translate into money for us daily. 100 per cent examination means more money to us but the truth is that it is at the expense of the economy. We will get more money but the economy will suffer and inflation will rise above its present position”.

When asked the way out, he said, “everybody knows the way out, which is fixing the faulty scanners”.

It was further gathered that 100 per cent examination will spell doom for manufacturers who are not on fast track, as raw materials for production would be trapped at ports and huge amount of money would be paid as demurrage to eventually get it out.

LEADERSHIP Friday’s investigation further revealed that Customs examination officers only conduct examination for eight hours, from 9:00am to 4:00pm, a situation that may lead to having huge backlog of unchecked containers at the ports.

The 100 per cent physical examination order was given as a result of non functional scanners across the seaports and border points across the country.

But industry stakeholders have described the 100 per cent cargo examination as anti-trade which is against the World Customs Organisation convention on Trade facilitation

Findings by our correspondent showed that the Service has commenced about 95 per cent physical examination at both Apapa and Tincan ports in Lagos.

However, while the conduct of the 100 per cent physical examination has led to congestion at the ports, importers are expected to loss huge amount of money for demurrage charges that will be accrued to terminal operators at the expense of the economy.

Stakeholders have expressed that any additional cost accrued during the process of clearing a cargo will be transferred to the final consumer

It was gathered that terminal operators charge N62,682 for a 20-feet container, while N87,682 is charged for a 40-feet container that would be cleared within the free three day period.

They charged N14,500 for a 40ft TEU container and N10,500 for a 20ft container per day for demurrage, even even the demurrage charges depend on the number of days the consignment stayed at the port before it was moved out to it final destination.

Speaking on this development, the national president, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero  said physical examination embarked upon by customs officers as is the case now was not the best for trade as it is cumbersome.

Amiwero also stated that laborious inspection at the ports encourages delay and the payment of rent and demurrage by importer/ licensed Customs Agents.

He said, “The current inspection process of 100 per cent physical examination contravenes the global Multi- Layered Security protocol of the WCO SAFE Framework that was adopted by World Customs Organization (WCO) globally after the destruction of the twin tower of World Trade Centre in America on September 11, 2001 by Al Qaeda.

“Laborious Inspection without scanners that is the essential tool approved under the Destination Inspection (DI) scheme in 2006 is to facilitate and secure trade, which encourages delays and the payment of rent and demurrage by importer/ licensed Customs Agents.”

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