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Govt Designates Dry Ports As Ports Of Origin, Destination

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The Federal Government, through its Federal Ministry of Transportation, says it has started moves to designate Inland Dry Ports (IDP’s) as Ports of origin and destination across the country.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Emmanuel Jime, stated this during the launch of the Operational Manual for Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria, which provides the processes and procedures for the Inland Dry Ports.
Mr. Jime, who pledged that operators and the regulators would be mandated to abide by the processes in the manual to address the gaps, boost transparency, and accountability in the sector, said modalities are being put in place.
“The Federal Ministry of Transportation has begun moves to designate Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria as ports of destination and ports of origin to enable them function the same way a seaport will function.
“In addition to this, agencies of government, as present inside the seaports, will be present inside the Inland Dry Ports.
“As a matter of fact, we expect the Inland Dry Ports to be more efficient than the seaports because we are learning from the mistakes made at the seaports in order not to replicate the same at the dry ports.
“As you are aware, the Council is the supervising and implementing agency of the Dry Port projects in the country”, he said.
The NSC Chief explained that activities in the manual include container import by rail, container export by rail, container import by truck, container export by truck, customs controls and empty container storage.
“The Inland Dry Port projects were conceived as part of the Federal Government’s reform programme in the Transport sector to promote efficient transportation, enhance efficiency at our ports and to engender trade facilitation.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council granted approval for the establishment of Inland Dry Ports in March, 2006 at six locations across the Country namely: Isiala- Ngwa – Abia State; Erunmu Ibadan- Oyo State; Heipang Jos – Plateau State; Funtua – Katsina State; Maiduguri – Borno State and Dala, Kano State which is to be commissioned very soon.

“Address Dry Port operations procedures as it relates to export and import activities; align Dry Port Operations to international best practices; and ensure standard quality control in dry port operations.

“The Manual, according to him, is based on best international practice adapted to suit the Nigerian context. Indeed each dry port will have its specialties, organisational implementation, layout constraints, and services offered and would therefore amend aspects of the manual on a case-by-case basis.

“It may be pertinent to state that this Manual would be used as a measure of performance by the regulator (in this case, the Nigerian Shippers Council) and will be subjected to future review to be in tandem with obtainable best practices, upon agreement of the two parties (the operator and the regulator).

“The launching of the Manual marks yet another milestone in the successful development and operation of the IDP projects in Nigeria”, he stated.

Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, explained that the projects were conceived as part of the Federal Government’s Ports Reform Programme designed, among others, to decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.

Represented by the Ministry’s Deputy Director, Inland Container Depot, Mr. Ewache Victor, the Minister said in addition to the above six gazetted Inland Dry Ports, approval was also granted for the upgrade of Kaduna ICNL Bonded Terminal to a full-fledged Dry Port.

“This was on the request of the Kaduna State government in 2008 resulting in approval by the Federal Executive Council. In April, 2018, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port was officially gazetted as a port of Origin and Final Destination, considering the level of development and the commitment of the Concessionaire to the project.

“Also, other Inland Dry Ports are being processed in the following locations: Elolo ICD, Kebbi State by Deltatlantic Nig. Limited; Dagbolu ICD, Osun State by Osun State Government; Onitsha ICD, Anambra State by Sea Shipping Agency Limited; Ibadan ICD, Oyo State by CRCC Construction Company Limited; AMES Edo ICD, Edo State by Atlantic Marine and Engineering Services Limited; Bauchi ICD, by Bauchi State Government; Enyimba Economic City ICD, Abia State.”

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Truckers Threaten Service Withdrawal Over Customs’ Haulage Truck Seizures 

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Truckers under the aegis of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) have threatened to withdraw their services over incessant seizures of vehicles by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The truckers lamented that the seizure and possible auctioning of their trucks by the NCS has led to untold hardships for haulage operators in the maritime industry, describing the seizures as unjust.
A statement signed by  the President  and secretary of the body, Chief Yemi Ogungbemi and Alhaji Sanni Muhammed, respectively queried management of the Customs over failure to arrest  ships that import illicit goods to Nigeria for complicity.
”Does Customs seal the terminals that receive contraband and dangerous consignments in their yards for complicity in storing illicit consignments?”,
The truck owners said the Nigerian Customs at different fora made haulage operators to understand that the law stipulates they arrest the means of conveyance.
“If that is the reason, why not arrest ships that import containers with contraband goods to Nigeria. Are vessels no longer means of conveyance?”
AMATO described such laws  obsolete, saying that it has become injurious to truckers’ means of livelihood.
The AMATO executives further stated that truckers can no longer withstand what they call the unfortunate circumstances of being used as scapegoat for offenses perpetuated by unscrupulous importers.
“The seizure and possible auction of our trucks by the Nigerian Customs Service is causing us untold hardships as truckers, and for a very long time, we have been passing through this injustice in the hands of Nigerian Customs Service.
“Truckers are mere commercial transporters of goods. We are only invited by agents to come and carry goods to and from the ports after Customs might have examined and approved the release of goods in containers to Importers and agents.
“But unfortunately, after loading the containers that are duly examined and released by Customs on our trucks, they would waylay the trucks on the road, seize and detain our trucks in their yards together with containers with question marks”, they said.
Further questioning the rationale for the seizures, AMATO queried why they are the victims when they are not involved in physical examination of goods in the ports together with Customs, Police, Directorate of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Drug Law Enforecement Agency (NDLEA), etc. to see what they carry.

“Does it sound just for Customs officers and other government agencies that jointly examined and approved the exit of contraband and other dangerous goods in the ports to be holding the trucker responsible for their fault and negligence?

“Is it the commercial trucker that is short-paying government’s import duty on goods or the Importers and their Agents?

“If the answer to the above questions are ‘No’, we are calling on Nigerian Customs Service to release all our trucks detained in their yards or we withdraw our services nationwide in protest against the unjust seizure of our trucks.

“Our members are facing agonizing economic hardships. Their means of livelihood are being seized by the Nigerian Customs for the offense committed by Importers and their dubious collaborating Agents.

“Nigerian Customs should please release our trucks and stop using the truckers as scapegoat.

“Recently, some containers were found to contain tramadol, arms and ammunition. If the trucker knows that he is to carry container loaded with explosives that can destroy him and the truck, or the contraband drug that would equally put him in trouble, he will not carry it.

“Thus, where is the justification for seizing our truck?

“We appreciate the previous Management of Customs authority, in that they reasoned with complaints and issued out circular that enables us to retrieve our seized trucks through application.

“But the present Management of Customs wrote against the Circular. All our efforts and entreaties to the present management of the Customs to revalidate the circular to enable us secure the release of our trucks have proved abortive.

“Hence our plan to settle out grievance with the customs authority through the eloquence of withdrawal of services if our trucks are not released by the Customs”, AMATO concluded.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Electronic Auction Platform, Most Authentic For Goods -NCS

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has restated that electronic auction (e-auction) platform of the Service at https://app.trade.gov.ng/eauction/ is functional and remains the only authentic means of auctioning goods to members of the public.
The Service in a statement issued in Abuja by its Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, noted that this clarification became necessary following rumours that a special auction of over 7000 cars would soon be held by the Service.
It reiterated that auctions are periodic and advertised in advance on the Service’s website to avail members of the public the opportunity of selecting and bidding for items of their choice.
NCS recalled that the Service deployed the e-auction platform in July 2017 specifically to improve efficiency in revenue generation to the Federal Government and also provide equal opportunities to all Nigerians in the seamless disposal of seized/condemned and overtime/abandoned cargoes.
“Since its implementation, the e-auction has lived up to expectations by guaranteeing transparency and integrity in the auctioning process.
“Requirements to take part in the e-auction bidding process by interested public/bidders include:
“Applicant must have a valid tax identification number (TIN) issued by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) with an active e-mail account for the issued TIN.
“Conditions and Terms of this auction are to be carefully considered by an interested person before acceptance.
“Applicant must ensure he/she has an authentic and nationally accepted means of identification, i.e. international passport, driver’s license, national identity card or voters card.
“Other guidelines can be found on the e-auction portal at https://app.trade.gov.ng/eauction/.”
The statement, however, advised owners of uncleared vehicles at the ports to avail themselves of the VIN-Valuation protocols which it said had simplified, automated and made user-friendly the clearance procedure.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Subsidy: Reps Summon Finance Minister, Query NNPC

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The House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee that is Investigating the Petroleum Products Subsidy regime from 2013 to 2022 has summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to appear before it on Tuesday next week for questioning.
Ahmed is to appear before the committee with all the documents demanded by the lawmakers relating to subsidy claims and payments in the period under review.
Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, issued the summons at the continued investigative hearing of the panel in Abuja on Tuesday.
Members of the committee had faulted the appearance of the ministry’s Director of Home Finance, Stephen Okon, without a letter from Ahmed authorising him to represent her.
The Chairman decried the non-appearance of several invited agencies, such as the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, and Shell Petroleum Development Company.
After Okon was eventually allowed to speak, the Director said he only appeared before the lawmakers to seek more time for the Ministry to collate and present the required documents.
The committee consequently gave the Minister one week to do so.
“This committee requested from you to know the total amount released from the Consolidated Revenue Account as subsidy payments from January 2013 to date; the total amount released from other accounts other than the Consolidated Revenue Account to subsidy payments from January 2013 to date; breakdown of beneficiaries; companies that enjoyed releases from the Consolidated Revenue Account and other revenue accounts as subsidy payments.
“Identify each beneficiary with the amount sent to them, month by month, covering the period from January 2013 to date; all correspondences between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria regarding subsidy payments from January 2013 to date; evidence of lodgement of forex into Consolidated Revenue Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation now (Nigerian National Petroleum Company) Limited as revenue from January 2013 to date”, the Chairman stated.

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