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Customs CG Calls For United Front Against Smugglers

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Stakeholders in charge of Nigerian ports must forge a united front to combat the common evil of smugglers of arms and ammunition through the nation’s ports, says the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, retired (Col.) Hameed Ali. He said illegal arms importation is a threat to the Nigeria’s security system.

The Customs CG called on collective obligations of all stakeholders to reduce observed bottlenecks in the operations of all the security agencies at the entry ports and boarders to the country; achieve faster processions of cargoes warrants, streaming of procedures and fighting corruption and corrupt practices in our ports.

“We therefore need to work together to present a united front against those characters waiting to compromise our system. We must leverage on opportunities presented by new technologies to track them and punish the offenders. We must all resolve that the certain interest of few economic saboteurs should not be allowed to subjugate our collective vote to bring sanity to our quality system,” Col. Ali said yesterday at a 1-day national conference on fast-tracking port reforms.

The conference tagged: “International Freight Transport: key to unfolding the potentials of Nigerian seaports for speedy economic recovery and growth”. It was organized by Vintage Press Limited and Epsilon Limited in conjunction with Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, Nigerian Shippers Council, National Inland Waterways Authority and Federal Ministry if Transportation.

Like other speakers at the event, Col. Ali said one way to improve performance of the agencies at the ports is actually to carry out an assessment of their operations, identify areas where “we made progress and those where we still have some bottlenecks and delays.”

In his keynote address, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi who said the theme of the conference is apt, added that the current administration is conscious of facilitating intermodal transport system in the country by prioritizing the rehabilitation, upgrade, modernization and construction of the country’s railway lines and roads. He said the federal government has embarked on major reforms to increase efficiency and encourage private sector participation in port infrastructure development and operations.

Sam Omatseye who represented MD of Vintage Press, Victor Ifije spoke to the fact that the conference provides an opportunity to fertilize ideas that can position the maritime industry for greater performance and contribute to the nation’s economy.

Intermodalism, according to Mike Jukwe who stood in for Director General of NIMASA involves the transportation of goods in a container using multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship and truck), without offloading the goods itself when changing modes. Though the history of intermodalism predates the use of standardized containers, it was containerization that actually popularized and promoted intermodalism.

The system affects the efficiency of the ports in many ways, such as reduction in cargo handling time, turnaround time of vessels in the ports, cargo pilfering and theft, damage and loses of cargo as well as allow for easy transfer to other modes of transport such as rail coaches and haulage vehicles, which are now specially built to carry containers. This ensures faster transportation to the final destination of the cargo.

 



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