Many clearing agents that were operating at the borders have dumped land borders after former President, Muhammadu Buhari ordered the reopening of land borders for businesses, findings have revealed.

Recall that Buhari had in December 2020, ordered the reopening of some of the land borders for businesses after shutting the borders since 2019.

However, in a telephone conversation with the PUNCH on Monday, the Seme Chapter Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Mr Ekene Onyebuchi, said containers coming to Nigeria from Cotonou were meant to pay an extra transit charge of N2.1m for 40-foot container aside from the shipping and terminal charges.

He also said that the charges increased as the exchange rate fluctuated.

Onyebuchi said 95 per cent of the members were no longer into the work, and that bringing in goods through the seaport was now cheaper than the land borders.

He said, “We pay a transit charge of N2.1m for a 40-foot container, they are collecting too much money from us here and we still pay shipping and terminal charges just like bringing in goods through the seaport.

“So you find out that it is cheaper to bring in goods through the seaport than the land borders because here, the exchange rate is getting higher every day, the cipher is getting stronger daily while the naira is dying.

“Presently we are not up to seven people operating there and we were more than 200 agents working there before now. 95 per cent of our members are no longer working because there is absolutely nothing to do here.”

He said that the charges were cheaper for cargos going to countries like Mali and Niger because they do not have seaports.

According to him, “They charge the same size of cargo going from the Republic of Benin to places like Niger, Mali among others cheaper like N570, 000, but for the ones coming to Nigeria, the charges are always higher.

“They said that Niger, Mali others do not have seaports which is why they are charging them cheaper and Nigeria has a seaport so they have to pay higher. You will have to pay shipping charges, terminal charges, and all that before you still pay the transit charge.”

The NAGAFF Seme chapter boss said most of his members had preferred seaports and other businesses.

Also speaking, the Seme Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Bisiriyu Lasisi, said that clearing through Cotonou was now more expensive than the seaports.

He said, “For a 40-foot container, if you pay N2.2m, they call it transit fee container and shipping company logistics and all that. And 20 feet will pay like N1.4m which is an extra payment that cargoes coming from land borders now incur.

“And we don’t have that at Tincan, Apapa, or Onne so definitely if you spend say N7m for a consignment coming through Cotonou, you may spend like N5.5m in Lagos. This payment has been there right from time, as the exchange rate is going up the payment is also going up.”

Lasisi complained that such payments were not made on goods coming into the country through the seaports.

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