Nigeria Business & Finance Updates

Seaport e-clearing runs into hitch and importers face demurrage

Importers have cried out over their inability to clear their goods from the Lagos seaports in the last 12 days, resulting in unexpected demurrage cost.

They lamented the difficulty in processing the electronic payment documents required to clear their goods from the ports.

Recall that the Nigeria Customs Service had created a single-window trade portal linking relevant regulatory agencies to facilitate easy and quick clearing of goods at the ports.

The agencies include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Nigerian Ports Authority

Importers, however, said for the past over one week, they had faced difficulties uploading their SON’s Conformity Assessment Programme certification numbers on the Customs trade portal.

The SONCAP number is the prerequisite for accessing the Customs’ Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, an online application designed and used by the Customs for generation of the clearing document.

The commercial bank that issues Form M for the importer also applies for PAAR on behalf of the importer and sends it to the NCS along with the Form M, the final invoice, Combined Certificate of Value and Origin, Transport Document (Bill of Lading/Airway Bill/Roadway Bill) and a packing list.

When the NCS is satisfied with the documents, it will issue a PAAR that will enable the importer or his agent to clear the goods.

Our correspondent gathered on Friday that for over one week, importers had been unable to process the PAAR, leaving their goods unattended to and attracting demurrage of about N7,000 a day.

“I have been unable to process my PAAR for the past 12 days because I cannot upload my SONCAP number to the trade portal to access the PAAR.

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“My colleagues and I have been visiting the SON office almost every day,” an importer, Sunny Ndukwe, told our correspondent.

It was also gathered from SON that it recently did a system upgrade.

The National President, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Increase Uche, confirmed the development.

He said, “System upgrade is going on at SON. The executive director in charge of ports and border operations in the agency addressed freight forwarders about the planned upgrade some weeks ago.”

He gave the assurances that the challenge was being handled professionally and with dispatch.

The National Public Relations Officer, NCS, Mr Joseph Attah, told our correspondent that the problem was not with the NCS portal.

He said their operations on the portal had been going on without hitches.

Reports also had it that there were disruptions in Internet service in at least 12 African countries, including Nigeria, after undersea connection cables were damaged two weeks ago.

The damage was said to have affected Main One, Nigeria’s leading Internet solution provider.

The WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems which connect many African countries to Europe are wired through the Atlantic Ocean.

Punch

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