Agents, Customs disagree over the vehicle clearance platform

Licensed customs agents have kicked against the newly introduced platform by the Nigeria Customs Service for the clearance of vehicles with nonstandard Vehicles Identification Numbers.

Recall that the Ports & Terminal Multipurpose Limited Command of the NCS last week the launching of an electronic platform that would be used to clear tokunbo vehicles, which were not captured under the VIN valuation platform.

The Public Relations Officer of the PTML Command of NCS, Mohammed Yakubu, in a memo on Sunday, said that the electronic platform for clearing the 846 vehicles, which are the nonstandard VIN, would commence on August 7, 2023.

The memo read in part, “I am directed to remind all licensed customs agents with Form C30 in PTML Area Command that the e-application on 846 will go on air on 8th (sic) Monday, August 2023. Henceforth, all manual applications will not be entertained. The customs licensed agents with Form C30 are to come forward for the e-application of 846 system access. Ensure that all licensed agents are to come along with their form C30 for screening before issuing access”

However, a former PTML Chapter Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Mr George Okafor, in a chat with the PUNCH on Tuesday said, “The platform has not completely picked up. It is still delaying. Trucks are not yet captured in the platform. So, the platform is still having issues. PTML just started it but it has been on at Tincan for some time now. We believe that customs will ratify it because it is not a big issue. So, to get the valuation, you will have to apply.”

 Also, the PTML Chapter Chairman of NAGAFF, Mr Thomas Alor, said that the new platform was causing a delay in car clearance.

“Another major challenge we are having with the platform is that it is causing delays in the clearance of imported vehicles. For instance, a car that is supposed to take one hour to clear now takes more than two hours.”

A former Public Relations Officer of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, PTML Chapter, Mr Adeola Sulieman, claimed the process had caused a minor delay in the clearing processes of imported vehicles.

“But it is a normal thing with new platforms like this and we hope it will soon be sorted out,” he noted.

Reacting to the complaints, the Customs PRO said that there were no issues with the platform.

“Nothing is causing a delay. There is nothing like that. All of them are running away from automation. They don’t want to do it. Anybody that comes to you to say there is a delay, ask the person why he doesn’t want to come and log his application.

“Tincan has started since December. All these while, we have been applying manually and we said we want to automate it. Apply online and there won’t be any human interface. So, there is no delay at all,” he argued.