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Aviacargo Committee eye number One in Africa, seeks partnership with customs Lilypond Apapa to address impediments

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….as the command generated $200m revenue, addresses rejection, delay of export, cancellation of contracts

….achieves 24 hours clearance and examination

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN Aviacargo Roadmap Committee recently paid a visit to the Lilypond Nigeria Customs Area Command office Apapa, Lagos to seek partnership and suggestions in addressing the challenges militating against aviacargo export in Nigeria.

The Committee led by its Coordinator, Mr. Ikechi Uko while explaining the purpose of their visit said, there is no reason why Nigeria as the largest producer of Agric produce cannot be the number one aviacargo hub in Africa but unfortunately, the country is not due to certain impediments which must be addressed.

He said, Kenya is number one in aviacargo in Africa and Nigeria is five, stressing that, if Nigeria is the largest producer of Agro-produce why is Nigeria not number one?.

“Nigeria doesn’t export much. In aviacargo Nigeria is number five, number one is Kenya, number two is Egypt, number three is South Africa, four is Ethiopia and Lagos airport is number five despite the fact that, we are number one in population, number one in economy and we have the largest number of travellers”.

He added, “To get Nigeria from five to number one is not something that can be done overnight, we need to find out what others did. The Lagos economy is bigger than the economy of Kenya, the population of three states is larger than Kenya, the airport in kenya is not as big as any of our airports, their airline is not the best in Africa and why is Kenya doing better than everybody else? We found out that they have a roadmap, they have a strategy plan and they are implementing it”.

He explained to the comptroller and his officers that, the idea of setting up the committee is to make Nigeria a hub in aviacargo.

“So we decided to ask ourselves, why are we not number one in doing cargo, export? We found out there are challenges everywhere. I organized a cargo conference called Chinet for aviacargo and FAAN decided that we should do a roadmap to find out how to make Nigeria number one, the idea is to make Nigeria a hub in cargo, even if we are importing let’s make money from both import and export”.

Uko said, with the roadmap to be put together, their target is to grow aviacargo in the next three years and put Nigeria in the world map as the number one in aviacargo which would be of benefit to FAAN, customs and the economy.

“We produce a lot of things, 53m tons of yam, Ghana produces only 8m tonnes but Nigeria doesn’t export yams, Ghana exports our yams and for a lot of things, they export on our behalf, they put it as produce of Ghana but we bring it from Nigeria and export. Why have we not been able to do that because we have not put in place a system that will adequately take care of the things that we produce. We produce a lot of things in this country but we are not able to sell”.

He listed some of the impediments to the rejection of Nigeria goods to include, “the packaging is poor, the quality is poor and those that are time dependent arrived when the goods are dried and expired so, part of why the committee was set up is to solve this problem. In setting up the committee we invited the agencies that are all involved in the process”.

Responding, the Comptroller Customs Area Command, Lilypond, Apapa, Mohammed Babandede said, when they came in November last year, there were challenges of rejection of Nigeria goods, delay and cancellation of contracts and was mandated by the then CGC to ensure all bottlenecks and stumbling blocks were done away and these they have achieved.

The result he said is the $200m revenue they generated in the first quarter of this year and assured it would continue to increase if they continue to up their game in the service.

“For example, your habiscus flower from Kano cannot get to Lagos within five days because from Ogere, it will take 30-40 days to get to apapa or tincan and by then this produce would have gone bad and when it gets to its destination it will be rejected why, because the roads are congested”.

According to him, the command invited the relevant agencies and offices were given to them, did joint examination once, containers examined, treated and released to the mother ports within 24 hours.

He said, this helped to minimize rejection of Nigeria goods and most of the exporters came to testify and thank the command for the initiative.

“Another thing we handled was to ensure that no intervention that is no loss of consignment, this means DSS would not stop a consignment at the mother ports or on the road or NAFDAC or any other customs, once it is done and treated, it means it will be ready to go, so these are some of the things as our strategy plans for us to promote the business of export out of Nigeria”.

“Contract cancellation, exports are mostly FOB’s, therefore it is the uptaker that handles the freight, so if this is his vessel that is leaving Nigeria by this coming Saturday, you miss that vessel most often, they cancel the contract and we ensure timely delivery of the released boxes to the mother ports so that, this contract cancellation can be a thing of the past, we have done that”.

Babandede however said, the challenges that must be surmounted is ensuring exporters adhere to standards and their goods well packaged.

Babandede pledged to assist the committee in anyway necessary to grow the Nigeria economy through the export of Nigeria goods, stressing that, they should see them as partners in progress.

Highlights of the visit was question and answer section for clarification in certain areas of the subject matter under consideration.

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