Saturday, April 16, 2011

Major Customs Fraud By Freight Forwarders May Impact Container Imports

Twenty Seven Agents Under Investigation
Shipping News Feature

NIGERIA – With the eyes of the world are fixed on a country in the grip of election fever, according to local press reports a major investigation by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is under way after several local freight forwarding agencies were accused of forging import documents to enable shipping containers to pass into the country without being scanned. Recently local agents have claimed goods are being cleared much faster than previously and cynics say fraud may be the reason why.

The dangers of such activities are obvious and the penalties likely to be swingeing with directors of the companies involved liable to arrest and prosecution if a prima facie case can be made against them. Twenty seven agencies in Tin Can Island Port have reportedly had their licences suspended after the accusation that they had been using the supposedly secret passwords of Customs officers to allow their Single Goods Declaration forms, and thus their import boxes to pass into the green lane where no scanning is required.

The Tin Can Island chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA) is no stranger to controversy, in recent days it has been accused of violence toward demonstrations against corruption in the port, replying that it was demonstrators who were prone to violence.

This type of in house bickering is unfortunately seen as typical by many who export goods to Africa, anyone who read last years story about corruption in Mombasa or viewed the video blog at the time will see similarities to this latest row.

Until Africa can change not only its ways but its image, this attitude from the US, European and Asian communities will persist and must be frustrating for those on the continent who are trying daily to bring about a modern, untainted freight and transport infrastructure.