Pundits panic over low ranking of Customs cargo clearance process

Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has been ranked abysmally low in cargo clearing process, compared to its contemporaries in neighbouring countries.

The latest World Bank report indicated.

The World Development Indicators of World Bank Logistic Performance Index is used to measure the efficiency of customs clearance process of countries, with a score of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Nigeria scored 1.97 lower than other selected countries against South Africa with 3.38, Egypt- 2.82, Republic of Benin 2.75, Cameroon 2.5, Togo 2.45, Ghana 2.57.

While analysing the figures, stakeholders at the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) Breakfast Series held in Lagos lamented that the slow process of cargo clearance is detrimental to Ease of Doing Business.

Guest Speaker at the event and Managing Director Analyst Data Services and Resources, Afolabi Olowookere, said Nigeria’s score of 1.97 shows inefficiency, urging the authorities to take drastic step to change

Guest Speaker at the event and Managing Director Analyst Data Services and Resources, Afolabi Olowookere, said Nigeria’s score of 1.97 shows inefficiency, urging the authorities to take drastic step to change the narrative.

Olowookere urged the government and its agencies to ensure proper implementation of reports and policies to ensure competitive seaports and propel a developed maritime sector.

He said the Nigeria’s Medium Term Plan for the Maritime Sector is to ensure that Nigerian ports become the preferred destination in West and Central Africa through deliberate collaborative strategies to grow throughput; leverage technology to improve efficiency and the ease of doing business.

According to him, the plans also expected to improve safety and security, but it needs proper implementation strategies.

Noting that Inland waterways are grossly underutilized, with only 3,000miles at of about 10,000 miles currently navigable, he said the plan is to also make inland waterways serve as an alternative cheap mode of transportation to decongest the seaports and deliver cargo closer to the hinterland.

“The Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021-2025) recognizes that the country’s seaports are heavily congested for the maritime sector due to absence of dry ports and multi-modal transport infrastructure,” he stated.

Olowookere said transportation service trade has always been on deficit for Nigeria, implying the country pays out more than it attracts. He said the deficit is estimated at $2.43 billion in 2022.

He lamented the situation whereby passenger and freight deficits of $1.06 billion and $3.48 billion were recorded in 2020 and estimated at $1.19 billion and $2.66 billion respectively for 2021 accordingly.

Meanwhile, he said the water transportation contribute paltry 0.01 to Nigeria’s GDP in 2021.

Olowookere, who also berate the underdevelopment of the water transportation/maritime sector, said the sector has a lot of potential for growth and to contribute to the general development of the country, but it has been underutilized.

President of NMLA, Funke Agbor, said the association is concerned about the maritime industry, which is an economic sector that has not been fully developed, and had to engage industry players to discuss the challenges facing the sector.

According to her, the problems have existed for more than 40 years, but the NMLA wants things to be done differently.

“We want to make sure the industry is working together to make the changes we want. We also want to use ourselves as an advocacy group to infiltrate the government. Most importantly, we all agreed that changes need to be made in the maritime sector. We can use facts and figures to show the government that we can do things differently.”

 

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