The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has urged the Federal Government to review what prompted border closure to see if such objectives have been met.
According to the the association, this would facilitate reopening the border for regional integration to thrive, as the January 31 deadline for the expiration of the first phase of the Joint Security Operation Ex-Swift Response lapses.
Speaking during a press conference in Lagos, the founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, urged the Federal Government to tidy up issues surrounding the closure as a result of public interest,adding that ‘there is need for the government to have a roundtable discussion with the neigbouring countries to discuss the way forward.’
He added: “Whatever led government to take that action, we do hope that they have been able to tidy it up. And i think our neighbours should be brought to a roundtable to discuss these issues. Secondly, if there are any lapses that cannot allow implementation of trade policies at the border line, then let us address the issues.
“If the government has not concluded whatever made them shut the border, they should tidy it up for the interest of the public” he said. While the association supported the decision to close the country’s land border, Aniebonam said there is need for government to put in place sustainable measure to effectively police its borders as there is limit to areas the Customs could man.
Speaking also on the state of the port, he hinted that not much has been done to tackle the inflow of cargoes, which has led to congestion at the port.
He said: “We know that the port is a gateway to the nation’s economy and if that’s the case, something urgent has to be done. Cargo handling has increased and apparently, it appears that we are not doing so much to take the inflow of cargoes. At the moment, you will agree with me that the port is stressed and it means we will continue to have the issue of congestion.
“The things that we thought the port concession would have solved are currently raising more ugly heads, although there has been improvement in cargo handling. A trip that could cost few hours now takes six days. When you now return your container, the container deposit is eventually deleted and the shipping companies take the container deposit. The money is also leaving the country and we are loosing a lot of money,” he said.