The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) says it is taking bold step to coordinate border management operations to enable stakeholders have seamless operations and facilitate trade between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
The Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Zone ‘A’, Benjamin Aber, made this known during a Stakeholders’ sensitization programme between Nigeria Customs Service and Benin Customs at Seme, near Badagry on Tuesday.
According to him, the two customs operators have succeeded with the use of modern tools for inter-border clearance of goods to answer all the questions involved in inter-border trading.
He said that customs declaration should be done once, adding that there would be single declaration for both countries.
“The system will deal with corrupt tendencies and security will increase.
“The electronic connectivity will facilitate trade and reduce cost of doing business while security will be boosted.
“Deployment of non-intrusive equipment such as scanners will deal with the challenges of trans-border crimes including insurgencies.
“The electronic platform will integrate the two countries Single Windows trade platforms and also improve the compliance to trade regulatory and fiscal policy measures of both countries.
“The platform will create effective, predictable and transparent risk management system and reduction in smuggling activities in both countries and Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS),” Aber said.
The Customs boss said that both the NCS and Benin Customs held a meeting and agreed on co-ordinated border management to enhance Ease of Doing Business and reduce time spent on border trading.
Aber said that bilateral connectivity of all World Customs Organization (WCO) members had been launched, saying that the Nigeria-Benin Customs Connectivity was established to be the first connectivity centre.
He said that the connectivity centre between the two countries would be launched by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali.
Aber said that the platform incorporated other government agencies of both countries, adding that communication technology would be created to stop the communication gaps that could evolve during transaction.
Speaking earlier, the Director-General of Customs, Republic of Benin, Mr Charles Saka, said there was need for customs to work on inter- connectivity which was recommended by the Global Organization of Joint Border Post that was built by ECOWAS.
Saka said that the presidents of both countries met in Badagry 14 years ago to showcase their efforts in improving the inter-border trade which led to the connectivity platform we intend to establish to facilitate trade.
Representing National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Nurudeen Audi, urged Customs of both countries to involve other government agencies at the borders in the connectivity project.
Also speaking, Mrs Layo Okeowo, who represented the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) commended the Customs of the two countries for initiating the connectivity platform project.
“It is a beautiful idea and I hope the human factor will not hinder the success of the project,” Okeowo said.
Amaka E. Nliam