The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Wednesday warned that it would eject some operators from ports over non-compliance with government regulations.
NSC Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, gave the warning at a one-day seminar on “Need for Compliance with Trade Laws, Guidelines and Regulations”, held in Lagos.
The the seminar was organised by the NSC for port users comprising importers, exporters, freight forwarders, licensed customs agents at the seaports, borders and Inland Dry Ports (IDPs).
Bello was represented on the occasion by Mr Cajetan Agu, NSC Deputy Director, Enforcement, Monitoring and Compliance.
He said that non-compliance of operators with government laws and regulations at seaports and borders had led to illegal importation of arms and ammunition into the country.
He said that there was the need to sanitise the shipping industry of corrupt practices occasioned by non-compliance of operators in the sector.
Bello said the seminar was organised to check the increasing rate of importation of arms and other illicit goods into the country by some unpatriotic port operators.
He said that laws and regulations were made to control the movement of goods, services and related financial flows.
“Over time, these laws have been flagrantly abused and compromised, leading to importation and exportation of prohibited products, under- declaration of cargo, concealment, etc, thereby making government to lose money.
“Some members of the trading community resorted to unethical practices that contravened the import, export procedures and guidelines, as manifested in the increasing rate of arms importation.
“Also cross border smuggling, under declaration of goods with intent to evade duty, false declaration, concealment and over and under invoicing of value of goods.
“These issues are not exhaustive but provide a clear indication of some of the infractions in the process of cargo clearance at the seaports and border posts, ” Bello said.
According to him, non-compliance delays clearance of cargo, causes extra cost of cargo clearance and total loss of cargo to competing neighbouring ports.
He said that non-compliance had also led to massive loss of revenue and adversely affected the nation’s per capita income.
Bello said that for compliance to improve, there was the need for partnership, collaboration and synergy between government and the private sector.
Speaking earlier, the President, Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Mr Jonathan Nicol, said that the level of compliance with government laws and regulations in the shipping industry had been low across board.
Nicol urged operators to engage the government on policies that were not easy to comply with instead of being confrontational against the government.
He, however, said that there were a handful of unfavourable policies in the industry.