Posted by Sade Williams
Activities at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos was yesterday afternoon grounded following the introduction of a new policy by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Lagos Airport Command.
The clearing agents also accused the command of tripling charges imposed on them for clearance of consignments at the airport.
The clearing agents in their hundreds protested the directive from Mrs. Jayne Shoboiki, the Customs Area Comptroller (CAC), MMA Command that all consignments must as from July 13, 2018 be on Form M.
The agents insisted that the policy was anti-progress, stressing that some of the consignments could not come with Form M as they were not major goods.
Mr. Chris Nwabuzor, a member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at the Lagos Airport, in an interview with our correspondent said that most of the policies introduced by the CAC could not work at the airport as some of their consignments could not fall into the category directed by the command.
Immediately the protest began, Customs at the command locked the long room while the leaderships of the clearing agents ordered their members to vacate the premises.
As a result of this, clearing agents at the Lagos Airport have commenced an indefinite strike to register their grievances, vowing that they would not resume for work until their grievances were addressed by the command.
Nwabuzor said: “Since this new CAC came onboard, it has been from one crisis to the other. Initially, she claimed that customs introduced new system, which would enhance clearance of cargo at the airport, but with several challenges. In fact, most of the consignments we were supposed to clear entered demurrage in the process.
“Today again, the command sent out a circular that as from July 13, 2018, which is two weeks from now, all consignments, must be on Form M, which is not possible. Form M are for huge consignments, but some of our consignments do not fall into that category. For instance, if you want to clear a one kilogramme goods now, it must be on Form M.
“Even, at the seaport, car importation and clearance does not fall under Form M. how come goods of just one kilogrammme and more will now fall under this category,” he queried.
In his response, Mr. Haruna Ephraim, the command PRO, confirmed the circular, but said it was not for immediate implementation.
Ephraim, however, said that the command had new machines, which was installed recently, saying that the system recognises only those information.
He added: “We have not given any deadline, we just issued them a circular today (Monday) informing them that from July 13, they should make sure all their consignments coming into the country are on Form M.
“We ought to have commenced the policy immediately, but they complained that some of the consignments were already ordered and we gave them enough time to plan ahead.”