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Clearing Fees Rise By 50% At Ports

First Bank Nigeria

CONTAINERSImporters now have to pay 50 per cent more to clear their goods at the ports.

Investigations by our correspondent on Friday showed that goods are now being cleared by the agents at the rate of N750 per kilogramme, compared to the previous amount of N500. This represents a 50 per cent increase.

Importers who spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent described the increase as unjust.

They also explained that the increase was not duly communicated to them but was imposed on them without any justifiable reason.

This, they added, was causing untold hardship not only to importers, but also to end-users of the products.

The President, Association of Finished Textile Dealers of Lagos, Mr. Patrick Uzomah, told our correspondent that the hike in the clearing rate should be reversed by government.

He added that it was not fair for clearing agents to increase their fees while importers were still grappling with the issue of high demurrage charges by handling companies.

He said, “Most importers are still trying to get funds to clear the backlog of goods that have been lying in the cargo section of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport after its recent long closure.

“We have been trying to raise funds to clear the demurrage, only for the clearing agents to also increase their fees. I think it is not good, and we have noticed that they do this every December. It isn’t right; government needs to step in to assist us.”

An importer, Mr. Abel Nwankwo, said retailers and end users bear the brunt of the increase.

He said the increase would be passed on to the retailers, as importers could not bear the cost alone.

“It is only natural that the end-users suffer it; government needs to come to our aid; we want to know the reason for the hike,” he stated.

The President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, MMA Chapter, Mr. Aloy Igwe, could not be reached on telephone for comments, and he did not respond to the message sent to his telephone by our correspondent.

However, a top executive of the association, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The amount for clearing goods has been increased, but it is due to many factors. You know the terminal was recently shut down by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and there have been a lot of issues since then. This increase is one of the effects of the crisis.”

Importers and clearing agents have been unhappy about the congestion of goods at the cargo section of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

It was gathered that three weeks after the re-opening of the cargo terminal, activities had yet to return to normal.

There was a general state of rowdiness at the terminal with many packaged goods lying unattended to.

As a result, FAAN had last Friday suspended cargo flights into the MMIA, citing congestion as the reason.

Its spokesperson, Mr. Yakubu Dati, had asked importers to consider the use of alternative ports around the country, adding that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency had been advised to issue a Notice to Airmen to that effect.

The Federal Government had on December 3, re-opened the cargo terminals which had been under lock and key for two weeks.

Activities of the cargo section of the airport had been brought to a halt following a clash between the officials of the Nigeria Customs Service and clearing agents over alleged manhandling of a senior customs official.

The order to re-open the warehouses was given by the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Alhaji Dikko Abdullah, after a series of meetings held by various stakeholders.

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