Ready for 48-Hour Cargo Clearance

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Abdullahi Dikko
Abdullahi Dikko

There are still doubts even when Abdullahi Inde Dikko, comptroller-general of Nigerian Customs Service, announces that the full implementation of a 48-hour cargo clearance at the ports begins in 2013

|  By Pita Ochai  | Dec. 31, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

ALL is now set for the operation of a single window process of cargo clearance at the different ports in the country. After months of successful test running of the process, the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, said the full implementation would commence in 2013. The single window clearance process is designed to help the country achieve its targeted 48-hour cargo clearance at the ports. The process will involve, a one-stop-shop, where the different agents involved in the clearance of goods at the ports will be brought into a single unit through electronic means.

Abdullahi Inde Dikko, director-general, NCS, said the feasibility study stage of a single window scheme in Nigeria, was successfully concluded and that the scheme was ready for an implementation stage. In the implementation stage, the ICT readiness of stakeholders and their readiness to cooperate would be ascertained. According to the NCS boss, the first phase of the feasibility study started in April, 2012.

Dikko said that the Single Window process would increase the level of service efficiency, eliminate administrative bottlenecks, increase revenue and bring about economic growth. “Our manufacturers, exporters, importers, terminal operators, financial houses and regulatory bodies all stand to benefit from the successful implementation of a National Single Window,” he said.

Apapa port
Apapa port

Victor Gbemudu, an assistant comptroller general, NCS, also said that the single window process would reduce human contact at the port and ensure 48-hour cargo clearance. “I will sincerely ask you all to key into the single window scheme, we know that in 2013, the single window will come into place, so we are moving ahead of time. With the single window, we know there will be less body contact, while the process will keep running and at the end of the day, we will be able to achieve the 48-hour clearance which is the mandate of the government,” Gbemudu said.

Giving an insight into plans to realise the vision, Valentina Mintah, a single window expert and coordinator, Nigeria single window, explained that there had been a number of attempts at single window implementation around the world, with fantastic outcomes for the economy of those countries. Mintah said the successful implementation of the programme in countries such as Singapore, Senegal and Thailand, had been responsible for their economic growth. She said that a single window environment would focus on streamlining business processes, empowerment of system operators and users, the inclusion of private sector in cargo clearance activities. Moreover, it would ensure a strong technical capacity, the creation of ICT system owned by the nation, a strong consultation framework as well as a sound governance and management structure aligned to international standards.

Mintah said that to ensure a similar success story of a single window cargo clearance in Nigeria, a systematic approach was used in conducting the feasibility study. To her, the 4-Ps, which is People, Process, Policy, and Platform, were considered to  ensure that the need of the Nigerian trade environment was, indeed, captured.

But some maritime stakeholders are still skeptical about the success of the single window process of cargo clearance in Nigeria. Jude Chukwuma, secretary general, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria, ARFFN, said that the NCS would be the major obstacle to the implementation of the single window system. To him, men of the NCS would not welcome any system that would fast-track cargo clearance at the ports as that might hinder their corrupt practices. Most of the delayed cargoes at the ports are there not because agents were not willing to clear them within 48 hours even with the present system in operation, but because men of the NCS benefit from the delay and would frustrate any system that would put a stop to that corrupt practice from which they benefit.

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