By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says the adverse operating environment of the nation’s ports will continue to hinder Federal Government’s effort to reduce dependence on oil revenues for economic development.
The LCCI President, Babatunde Ruwase, made the assertion during the LCCI Freight Forwarders Group Annual Seminar on Thursday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the seminar was tagged: “Trade Facilitation on Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II)-Advantages and Development.”
Ruwase said that significant efforts were made in reforming the maritime sector through concessioning of the ports in the early 2000s, noting that results of the reforms were below expectations.
He said that the regulatory landscape was complex with numerous public agencies regulating private terminal operators and myriad of businesses in freight forwarding, logistics and trade.
“Consequently, operators and users of Nigerian ports are faced with bureaucratic red tape, constant delays, high cost and illegal charges,” the LCCI president said.
He said that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in its bid to surmount the problem, introduced the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS II) to facilitate ease of doing business.
“While we commend the efforts of the Customs Service in the introduction of NICIS II, we would like to underscore the need for customs to do more in the area of trade facilitation.
“The business community still encounter too many problems in cargo clearing process. This is not consistent with the ease of doing business agenda of the government,” he said.
In his contributions, Col. Hameed Alli, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, said trade facilitation was at the core of NCS work, from developing tools to help companies in trade and ensuring government develops right policy to drive trade.
He said that NICIS II was a clearance application developed by NCS to modernise the clearance of goods at the ports and border stations.
Alli said that the introduction of NICIS II had reduced processing time of documents, web-based accessibility by smartphones, data control to guide correct declaration, help in data capture and attachment of scanned documents for online submission.
He was represented by Comptroller Adetoye Tade, the Controller Administration, Zonal Headquarters, Yaba, Lagos.
Also, Donald Uche, the Chairman, LCCI Freight Forwarders Group, said that the maritime industry has the capacity to improve its contributions to economic growth, if the impediments to its daily activities were resolved.
Commenting, Mr Chukwuemeka Akujiobi, the Assistant Director, Compliance and Enforcement, Nigerian Shippers Council, said most ports across the country were not up to standard in terms of infrastructure that would drive customer’s satisfaction.
Akujiobi said that the council would continue to monitor activities of all operators toward ensuring adherence to standards that would catalyse economic growth.