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Stakeholders canvass border reopening - THE NATION

DECEMBER 10, 2019

At a recently concluded interactive session on border closure, stakeholders, experts and others called for immediate reopening of the country’s closed land borders in the interest of legitimate trade, MUYIWA LUCAS reports

 Stakeholders and experts have demanded reopening of the country’s land borders for legitimate international trade. For these category of people, the entire country, especially businessmen, cannot be held hostage forever.

Arising from a one-day interactive session, the management and board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) made an appeal to the Federal Government to reopen the land borders in order to allow legitimate goods gain access into the country.

The Registrar, CRFFN, Samuel Nwakohu, told the press, that the call was not intended to encourage criminality, but for legitimate goods to be allowed to be traded across the borders. For him, the problem leading to the closure of the borders was a systematic failure especially on the part of Customs. He, therefore, called for better training and equipping of the Nigerian Customs Service to meet global standard.

“The freight forwarders are not in any wise encouraging criminalities, but they are of the view that ETLS compliant goods should be allowed to go; they are of the view that what went wrong at the borders, is as a result of system failure especially on the part of Customs.

“They are of the view that the Customs should be better equipped, better trained and adopt global best practice, they are of the view that compliance should be adhered to on the Protocol of Agreement in the west African region. “These are some of the resolutions that we have reached during the interactive session,” he said.

The Chairman, Monitoring and Enforcement, CRFFN, Timothy Awogbemi, said the programme was aimed at acquainting the Federal Government with the stance of freight forwarders on the border closure. He said the resolution at the session include, improving on the scanner as well as platforms so that Nigeria can compete with international standards.

“This is a programme initiated to make a presentation to the Federal Government on the position of freight forwarders in Nigeria. The essence is to listen to critical stakeholders, hear their views, their opinions and what they feel about border closure and to make a joint communique to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“What we are saying here is that the platform, the gate, the scanner should improve. They have to be able to be compared to international standards and every small route should not be a border in Nigeria.

“There should be a major border and all other borders closed and there should be facility improvement and training and retaining of our security personnel.

Also speaking, Otunba Kunle Domain, Chairman, Port Consultative Council, said it was an open discussion by concerned persons seeking the way out of the border closure, adding that necessary frameworks should be put in place to forestall future occurrence of having to close the borders.

“From the discussions, it is clear that those who are affected feel that we should revisit the issue and the border should be opened and if not, there must be some framework to be done so that in future, we shall have no reason to close borders, particularly the issue of Customs administration. They have to reform, restructure all the treaties and the protocols for compliance,” he said.

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