Customs Area Controller, Tin Can Island Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni.

The Tin Can Island command of the Nigeria Customs Service yesterday met with stakeholders comprising importers, exporters and freight agents to acquaint them with recent developments at the command, especially in terms of improved service delivery occasioned by the introduction of new trade facilitation mechanisms, which make the command the beautiful bride.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting in Apapa, Customs Area Controller for the command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni, noted that the stakeholders’ strategic forum was convened to appreciate its stakeholders, who have on a consistent basis, helped the command to sustain its revenue drive, which has been on the increase over time.

From right: Member of Board of Trustees of NAGAFF, Prince Ignatius Nwachukwu (standing) Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni and some officers of the command listen to the stakeholders during the strategic meeting in Apapa, Thursday.

According to him, the forum was also partly to acquaint them on the recent clearing of the Mile 2-Apapa Road corridor, which was made possible by the combined efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, among others, which had for over 13 years, been impassable, thus impairing speedy cargo movement from Tin Can Island Ports Complex, as importers had to withdraw their patronage for the port.

It was gathered that the clearing of that port access corridor has greatly improved free flow of vehicular traffic on the road, thus improving movement of cargo in and out of the Tin Can Island Port, as it takes few minutes for a truck leaving the port to get to the Mile-2 end of the corridor.

The Comptroller further noted that there have been several other innovations at the command, which include the installation of access control at the Five Star Logistics Terminal with a view to safeguarding cargo, especially Roll-On-Roll-Off RORO vehicles and other types of cargo, a development that has further boosted the confidence of port service users.

“We called our stakeholders; importers, exporters and freight forwarders to appreciate them for consistently helping us to sustain our revenue drive, which has been on the increase. You can agree with me that our impressive revenue performance would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions of our stakeholders, so we called them to appreciate them.

“You can also agree with me that the clearing of the Mile-2-Apapa Road, which followed the relentless efforts by the Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, there has been free vehicular flow on the road. So we invited them to acquaint them of the improved turnaround time because a truck can now make two-three trips in one day, which was not the case before now.

“It is also a common knowledge that an access control mechanism has been installed at the port, especially the Five Star Logistics Terminal. The idea is to safeguard cargo, especially RORO vehicles, which were before now tampered with, so we needed to inform them of these positive developments that have greatly enhance their service experience.

“There is need to engage with the stakeholders as often as possible in order to review our operational modalities, you will recall port by its very nature, is a dynamic environment and what this means is that every day, things change, there are new innovations, new ideas come up, government policies are reviewed and so there is need to always update our stakeholders” Comptroller Nnadi said.

He further disclosed that the command has established a Dispute Resolution Mechanism in line with efforts to ensure a seamless resolution of trade disputes and allied issues. This, according to him is in tandem with the policy of the command not to delay any consignment beyond a reasonable limit to forestall additional charges arising from demurrage payments.

It was further gathered that the new unit would be made up of the command’s Public Relations unit, the Enforcement unit and Customs Intelligence Unit CIU, which would work within timelines to resolve disputes and provide intervention whenever a stakeholder is aggrieved, while some issues could be escalated to the Comptroller’s office for urgent resolution when the need arises.

The command has also re-introduced the Information Box, which serves as a feedback mechanism, where stakeholders are expected to drop their complaints, suggestions and other vital information anonymously, which would be treated confidentially.

The CAC however noted that there is need for collective integrity both for the stakeholders, especially the agents and officers and men of the service, adding that there is need for voluntary compliance on the part of the agents in order to enhance smooth delivery of cargo. He pledged that the command would sustain earlier reforms it introduced, including the delivery of cargo at the weekends, adding that everything is being done to ensure efficient service delivery as part of its cost reduction mechanisms for the importers and their agents.

A member of the Board of Trustees BOT of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, Prince Ignatius Nwachukwu, while speaking at the event, commended the management of the command for the various reforms and cost-saving measures introduced by the command.

Prince Nwachukwu, who doubles as the National Chairman of the Elders’ Council of the association, also admitted that the recent clearing of the Mile-2-Apapa Road corridor, which had for several years seemingly defied all solutions was a welcome development, as it has drastically reduced the price of haulage while boosting turnaround time.

In attendance at the strategic forum were representatives of various freight forwarding associations including Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, NAGAFF, African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria APFFLON, importers and exporters among other stakeholders.