Importers patronise neighbouring ports to evade duty, says STOAN

The Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) on Monday said that some Nigerian importers patronised the neighbouring ports to evade duty.

The Spokesman of STOAN, Mr Bolaji Akinola, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said the concessionaires had invested over one billion dollars (N168 billion) in developing the ports for efficient services.
``Right now as we speak, it is well over one billion U.S. dollars that have been invested by private terminal operators at the nation’s seaports.
``That speaks volume. It means the ports are getting the kind of attention that they should get in terms of modernisation and upgrading.
``Some importers go to ports of neighbouring countries for one major reason, to either smuggle or to beat government’s fiscal policy.
``I give you an example; you will see the high rate of importation of vehicles through the land borders. It is because they (importers) want to pay less duty; nothing more.
Akinola said that Nigeria operated the best Roll On/Roll Off (RORO) operation in Africa, ``yet some importers still used other ports.
``We have the most efficient RORO operation in Africa here in Nigeria.
``I am talking about PTML Terminal. If your vehicle lands there, in less than 48 hours, if you get it right, you do your documentation, do your clearing, it is out,” he said.
Akinola said those who wanted to bring in contraband like textiles through ports of neighbouring countries, smuggled them in through the land borders.
He said there was a remarkable improvement in service delivery in Nigerian ports with continuous investments by the terminal operators.
Mr Uchu Block, Vice-President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), however, said some agents in the past preferred the services of ports of neighbouring countries.
Block said the Nigerian ports were full of bureaucracies, adding that importers had to use foreign ports like the Benin Republic.
He said that since 2006 there had been a slash in import duty.
``Since we started the Common External Tariffs (CET) regime duty rates have been slashed, unlike when we used to have some consignments which attracted up to 150 per cent duty.
``What the government policies have saved the citizens, the terminal operators, who are foreigners are taking back to their homes,” Block said.