…as Shippers’ Council opens parley with banks Following outcry by licensed customs agents on their inability to access funds from banks, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has opened discussions with the managements of banks with a view to enabling the agents to access funds for their operations. The President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero, in a petition to the Presidency had alleged that the banks in Apapa were only providing skeletal services, thereby hindering the smooth process of clearing cargoes. Amiwero lamented: ‘The banks are not opened for bank normal transaction, which is the core within the clearing chain, as clearance of goods start, with the banks in the opening of form; processing of PAAR, collection shipping documentation and other monetary transfers transaction.” In a swift reaction to the plight of the agents, Barr. Hassan Bello, said part of the discussions with banks was that they should open up two more branches in Apapa to cater to the financial needs of agents.
The Shippers’ Council boss in an interview with Daily Trust hinted that part of the complaint among stakeholders is their inability to access funds to transact business while at the Seaports. This to a large extent has hindered seamless port operations. Noting that already there are terminals with 95 per cent occupancy rate, Bello said that he was often worried about the congestion that will happen on both sides if cargo is not taken out of the ports. This is even as he hinted that the Council had opened similar discussions with banks in Port Harcourt, where people are not allowed to convey their goods from the port. He explained: “We are aware of the present global constraints, including to international shipping and logistics, and the inability of Freight-Forwarders to access fund. We have opened up discussions with commercial banks. “Some of them have immediately opened two branches in Apapa for the business. Right now freight forwarders can assess and pay duties. We are talking with other banks and they will do the same. “During the meeting with banks, I drew their attention to the Notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria, which allows operations in the financial system. We note that port operations as indicated by the President are essential and critical services. “Considering the impact of port activities on the economy, we have been discussing with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow for payment of fees to various agencies and to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports. “We call for synergy amongst port users and government agencies to support the Federal Government efforts in containing the scourge of the deadly virus, while making it possible to sustain port operations during this period. “This present situation has indeed caused unimaginable disruption of the logistics supply chain. Users and providers of services are seemingly unable to carry out their obligations for reasons beyond their control”, Bello added.