Absence of cash transactions in banks stalls cargo clearing

The absence of cash transactions in the four designated banks approved for clearing of cargoes at the seaport is currently inhibiting cargo clearing. Our correspondent gathered that whereas agents and importers would want to withdraw cash to pay for trucks, this had not been possible because the banks were not offering this service.

“The truck drivers and their assistants always prefer cash since most of them do not have bank accounts or would not want to bother with the ATM transactions,” one of the freight forwarders, Monday Uzeji, said. As of Tuesday, banks were only issuing and processing Form M for Customs duty payment as well as cheque and other instruments processing, but not cash.

Our correspondent learnt that this posed challenges for some agents who did not have accounts with the four designated banks. “It means that if you opened your Form M with any of the banks that was not among the four approved banks, you cannot process it and your transaction will be stuck,” Uzeji said.

The Zonal Coordinator of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, John Offorbike, who led other western zonal chairmen of the association on a sensitisation tour of port terminals, reportedly said that freight forwarders must be protected from paying demurrage and storage charges due to the fact that banks and the shipping companies did not operate on a full scale.

He appealed to the Nigerian Ports Authority to implement its earlier directive to terminal operators and shipping companies that demurrage and storage fees should be waived during the lockdown. The Chairman of Tin Can Island Chapter of ANLCA, Segun Oduntan, lamented that it was difficult to work online because many of the shipping companies and terminal operators were not automated, adding that only 20 per cent of them were online.

The KLT Chapter Chairman of ANLCA, Goddy Soleji, lamented that despite the Federal Government’s pronouncement that the port should be exempted from the lockdown, there had been no full operations at the port. He said even the movement to the port was a challenge as members that had vehicles could not gain access to the port because of the security agencies on the highway. ”

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