Freight forwarders commend online auctions by Customs service

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) says the introduction of an electronic platform to conduct auctions by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will restore stakeholders’ confidence.

The NAGAFF Secretary, Ikorodu Chapter, Mr Obinna Okafor, said  in Lagos that with the online biding transaction, the sales would be less difficult and fraud free.

The  NCS would commence online auction sales of overtime and impounded cargoes on July 1.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, had recently announced the Customs decision to change the old method through which overtime or seized goods were sold to the public.

This is in pursuance of an all-embracing reform in the service to correcting the ills at the ports involving officers, and ensuring that there is transparency in whatever the service does,’’ Ali said.

The electronic platform was already undergoing user acceptability test.

Okafor, a freight forwarder in the Ikorodu Overtime and Auction Customs Terminal Command, commended the NCS for going online in the biding process.

The online auctions is what the stakeholders are yearning for, it will restore the people’s confidence in the service and create a rancour-free atmosphere in the whole transaction.”

“It is advisable for customs to give preference to the industry stakeholders in the whole exercise to cushion the effect of job loss due to cargo seizures and overtime of containers,’’ Okafor said.

The NAGAFF scribe regretted that the industry was still witnessing overtime and seizure of cargoes at this time of economic downturn.

Okafor said that efforts should be made to discourage cases of overtime and seizure of cargoes as a way of sanitising the industry.

He said that the essence of the auction was to decongest the ports to create room for other cargoes to enter.

It will not be good for terminal operators to hinder the process with frivolous charges to allotees; it can undermine the process.”

“Issues of double allocation, which marred the previous ones, should be nipped in the bud by the NCS for stakeholders to have confidence in the electronically-driven sales,’’ he said.

Okafor said that the 2014 and 2015 auction sales attracted litigations with some cases still pending in various courts.

According to him, with the online programme, most of the undoing of the previous auction sales will be checked and will give room for enabling business environment.

Nigerian customs, had at a stakeholders meeting held in May in Lagos, said that all impediments to trade would be dismantled to attract investments.