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Customs grants concession to agents over trapped 5,000 third party containers

Reprieve has finally come the way of freight forwarders in the country over the trapped third party containers at the Lagos ports.

The Nigeria Customs Service has agreed to resume the clearing procedures of over 5,000 third party containers trapped in the wake of the controversial suspension order.The reprieve however carries 25% penalty.

Recalled that in January, 2019, the customs authority, in a circular signed by the Deputy Comptroller-Genreal in charge of Tariff and Trade, Issa Talatu, had ordered the immediate stop to the clearance of goods that had discrepancies in the names of importers and other information provided in the clearing documents.

Specifically, the customs authority said it was alarmed at the increasing practice among freight forwarders, who clear goods with Form M, Bill of Laden and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) that carry different names from that of the consignees.

In a circular, the Customs boss, Hameed Ali, had directed all Area Controllers to suspend the release forthwith till further notice, any cargoes with discrepancies in their documentation. Over 5,000 containers were said to have been trapped at the Lagos ports as a result of the directive.

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To compound the misery of the distraught freight forwarders, who have severally appealed to Hameed Ali for an amnesty over the trapped containers, the Customs helmsman also deployed multiple units of ad-hoc task force teams whose operations were said to be duplication of customs duties.

However, the Customs boss may have acceded to the appeal for amnesty on the trapped third party containers as he has directed that the Area Controllers of customs commands should resume their clearing procedures.

It was further gathered that the Compliance team deployed by the customs boss from Abuja to superintendent over the issue has been withdrawn.

Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the Vice-President of the western zone of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) who confirmed the cheering development, however said that the amnesty granted to the controversial containers was not without a cost.

He disclosed that the owners of the trapped containers will pay 25 percent of the total payable duties as a penalty.

He was however full of praises for the Comptroller-Genreal,  Hameed Ali and DCG, T&T, Issa Talatu,  for what he described as their timely intervention to bring succour to the freight forwarders.