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Tin Can Island Nigeria

Nigerian importers operating in all ports in Lagos are facing a tough time in clearing their consignments via the new Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) clearing platform, created to facilitate trade.

The platform

The new IT platform introduced to aid smooth clearance of cargo at the various port terminals has been given the Service sleepless nights before it was further wrecked by windstorm few days ago.

The platform, called Nigeria Customs Integrated System (NCIS)II is an improvement on  earlier automation processes such as Automate System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), ASYCUDA 2.3, ASYCUDA 2.7,ASYCUDA ++, and NICIS I, which is a software specially created to enhance seamless cargo clearance.

Under ASYCUDA, agents could only make five declarations in one hour, but under the NICIS II, they can make up to 18 declarations within an hour.

Also, under NICIS I, customs agents could view what other control agencies such as National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) are doing with their declarations. Similarly, they could actually interact with these agencies under NICIS II.

The new software had earlier been launched at Lilypond Terminal, Port and Terminal Multi-services Limited (PTML) and Tin Can Customs Commands.

Disruption

However its failure has affected cargo clearance at the ports in Lagos, Tin Can Island, and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) twice this month during a heavy downpour.

The disruption was more pronounced at Lagos Port, which handles the largest imports just two weeks when it migrated to the new platform after its trial at Lilypond, PTML and Tin Can commands.

Challenges

Speaking on the challenges, the Assistant Comptroller of Customs in charge of Customs Processing Centre (CPC), Apapa command, Yahaya Muktar highlighted some of the challenges the command had faced since the NCIS II took off two weeks ago, namely –

  • that the migration from ASYCUDA system to NCIS II platform had caused a little disruption in revenue generation, however he said that the command had caught up on what was initially lost to the mixed up; and
  • that the recent windstorm also contributed to the teething problems experienced at the command.

He explained that the service had not been able to access any work because of the server failure.

For the first week, there was no revenue collected. In the second week, when NCS got acclimatised to it, NCS collected N4.3 billon in a day which has now made up for the three days where no revenue was collected.

At the moment, the Lagos Port had only one scanning machine and that this was not adequate for the backlog of pending containers to be cleared. It was also confirmed that scanners were not working in some port terminals (Tin Can).

Requests for inspection were not being triggered properly resulting inspections not being completed.

Issues are also being experienced with debit notes resulting in importers being billed twice.

Many users were reluctant about using the new IT platform in the light of all the difficulties.

The challenges experienced range from network to various hardware and software technical issues. The NCS’s technical partner, Webb Fontaine is working with the implementation team to ensure normal resumption of customs processing for trade.

Source: New Telegraph Online, original article by Bayo Akomolafe, 30 May 2018

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The Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Inde Dikko Abdullahi, said that ports users would henceforth complete their business transactions within 24 hours. Speaking at the formal unveiling of the gantry scanner procured by Societe Generele Surveillance (SGS) Nigeria at Onne, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, he said the new scanning facilities would boost the 48-hour target for clearance of goods at the ports, noting that it would complement government’s efforts toward reducing the cost of doing business at the ports.

Special training for a select team of 80 NCS officers has been concluded. The team is expected to take over services and operations in the Destination Inspection scheme as from January 1, 2013. The training covered all aspects of the DI activities being handled by SGS for NCS with emphasis on actual risk analysis and processing of the importer’s final document resulting in classification and valuation opinion.

Managing Director of SGS Scanning Nigeria Limited, Mr. Nigel Balchin, in his address at the occasion, said the mobile cargo scanners were capable of scanning about 34 trucks per hour as against 16 per hour by the fixed cargo scanners. Each had double tunnel that enabled it scan two trucks at the same time with equal image quality as the fixed scanner. “At SGS we are committed to quality service delivery. We are very glad to be part of this success story and we look forward to Nigeria Customs Service taking charge of the DI programme. The knowledge you have acquired is for the benefit of Nigeria Customs Service and ultimately that of the Nigerian economy. We wish you the best in your future endeavours”, he said.

The image quality of the relocatable gantry scanners is on par with a fixed scanner. Trucks remain stationary during scanning (the scanner moves on rails) unlike a fixed scanner where the truck is pulled through the scanner on a conveyor that’s more vulnerable to maintenance issues. The scanner is mounted above ground unlike a fixed scanner where one of the detectors is four metres underground. In addition, a relocatable gantry scanner can be re-deployed to an alternative site, in a relatively short time, in case of any expansion or new development.

SGS is one of the service providers contracted by the Federal Government to assist the NCS facilitate trade through risk management and use of non-intrusive inspection (x-ray cargo scanning) of imports routed through the nation’s air and sea ports as well as approved borders. The company is currently providing cargo scanning services in Bahrain, Cameroon, Haiti, Madagascar, Uruguay and has completed provision of scanning services in Gambia, Kosovo and Mexico.  Source: Leadership.ng

After much controversy centering on allegations of corruption and impropriety, the Federal Government terminated the contract awarded to Single Window Systems and Technology Limited. The contract which allowed for a sole submission point for importers and exporters to lodge their documentation was unilaterally awarded by the Federal Ministry of Finance, under the Umaru Yar Adua administration, on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service to the company registered in June 2010 with N 1m share capital.

The contract was reported to be worth N 4.5 trillion. The decision to discontinue the contract was based on an investigation by the Ministry of Finance which looked into the processes and the terms of the contract. The investigation which was approved by the President revealed that the contract breached the provisions of both the Procurement Act and the ICRC Act. Nigerian Customs received a letter of notification from the supervisory of the ministry of finance that a concession agreement had been entered between the Federal government and the Single Window System Technologies Limited, so where did the customs come into play before the contract was signed?”

Nigeria Customs Service had earlier said on the controversy, “How can a company enter such an agreement without the knowledge of the Nigeria Customs Service?” The Customs was not involved in the execution of the agreement entered by the Federal Ministry of Finance through the Former Honourable Minister of Finance; Olusegun Aganga. Therefore Nigerian Customs was not carried along by the company called Single Window System Technologies Limited. The tender was scuppered.

Recently, the Nigerian Customs Service convened a Single Window National Stakeholder Conference under the slogan – “Collaboration -Towards a Facilitated Trade Environment”. The conference and workshop took place between 23 and 26 April 2012, and was attended by several local and international delegates representing UNECE, UN/CEFACT, and donor companies German Development Company (GIZ), USAID and Crown Agents. Details concerning the launch of this event can be accessed via the following links – Conference Website and Conference Summary Report.

Comment: So what started on shaky ground has finally materialised into a fully-fledged Customs-led programme – the way it should be, and hopefully remain. Moreover, trade representatives and intermediaries will need to be an integral part of this development for it to attain success.

Source: Business News Nigeria and Valentina Mintah (Trade Facilitation Consultant).

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