The Nigeria Customs Service has explained the need for barge operations to be dedicated mostly for export purposes, even as it suggested a prioritised access to seaports for exports.
The Comptroller-General of NCS, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd), made the explanation during a submit organised by Zenith Bank themed ‘Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity: The Role of Intra-Regional Trade and Non-Oil Export Business’.
Ali, who was represented by the Deputy Controller, Administration, Ogun 1 Command, Dera Nnadi, expressed regret that despite the government’s efforts to boost exports, several cargoes had been unduly delayed on the port access roads.
Noting that most of the delayed exports were agro products with limited shelf life, Nnadi called for a review of the use of barging at the ports in favour of exports.
His words, “Since 2017, there has been increase in the volume of agro exports in line with the government’s ambition to diversify the economy; but the road infrastructure remained static. The poor state of port access roads lead to delays, causing goods to be damaged before they are exported, while others are returned because the shelf life is grossly reduced by the delays.
“Customs partnered with other stakeholders to re-float barge operations as an alternative means to facilitate export, but the situation today has seen the barging service utilised for other purposes with revenue generation prioritised over trade facilitation.”
According to him, there should be a review of the use of barges at the seaports.
“Barging should be restricted to exports or export prioritised for barge operations. Government could also provide subsidy to cut down the cost of barging services for exporters,” he added.
The Customs boss also urged government agencies at the ports to be more concerned about facilitating trade and simplifying port processes, while Customs plays the role of revenue collector.
Earlier, the Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, had noted that over 100 exporters were developed in one year following the bank’s export sensitisation and support programmes.
Onyeagwu expressed delight at the top representatives who participated at the online summit, even as he stressed that Zenith would remain committed to supporting Nigerian Small and Medium Sized Enterprises to diversify the economy via non-oil exports.
He argued that Nigeria could benefit significantly from the African Continental Free Trade Area, if the nation continued to boost non-oil export, create enabling environment and simplify export processes.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer of Mamuda Industries Nigeria Limited, Hassan Mamuda, stressed the need for the Federal Government to improve infrastructure to enable Nigerian businesses compete favourably under AfCFTA.
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