Few days after embarking on industrial action over “high-handedness” of Nigeria Customs Service officials at Onne port in Rivers State, freight forwarders have picked up their working tools.
The agents had accused the Customs Intelligent Unit of delaying the exit of containers at the port in an attempt to extort them.
Chairman, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Obinna Ugochukwu, told Financial Street that the strike was called off on Monday after a meeting with the Customs and the registered freight forwarders groups including AREFFN, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders.
He said 65 per cent of their demands had been met by the Customs command, with the promise that the others would be addressed by the Customs management at the headquarters and the leadership of the freight forwarding associations.
Accordingly to Ugochukwu, a committee has also been set up to interface with the NCS to curb extortion during cargo clearance.
“The strike has been suspended. They ( Customs) have met about 65 per cent of our demands and the remaining ones, which include the removal of the CIU team leader and the OC gate, our leaders are handling them in Abuja with the Customs management while we start work.
“We have set up a committee that will interface with the Customs to look into the areas we are having challenges, especially in duty payment and harmonisation of how cargoes are being cleared at Onne to avoid extortion. For example, when you capture your job and finish examination, instead of you to proceed to terminal for your release, you are meant to come back to Customs Processing Centre again, which we regard as abnormal because it causes delay and demmurage for the agents and importers. Now, they have accepted that we should go on with the normal procedure apart from some jobs that they might have interest in or those that have National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Standards Organisation of Nigeria or National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control alert,” he said.
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