Committed to measuring up with global competitiveness, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Monday, launched a trade facilitation tool called Fast Track 2.0 (FT 2.0) to enable compliant importers and agents to clear their cargoes within 24 hours.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, while launching the platform that was designed in collaboration with the World Bank, described it as reward for compliant shippers who would enjoy the fast track from the seaport to their warehouses under strict monitoring.
Ali said the fast track would not circumvent due process, especially the scanning of containers at the port, adding that anyone caught in any form of breaches would be severely sanctioned. Ali noted that the new product would boost trade facilitation, revenue generation and security.
In his words, “FT 2.0 was designed to admit traders irrespective of the nature of their trade on the basis of compliance alone. Its potential for encouraging traders to play by the rules is significant as it promises huge rewards especially in the areas of drastic cost reductions associated with cargo handling and demurrage at the ports.
“FT 2.0 is a precursor to the introduction of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Scheme which guarantees even more benefits for compliant traders.
“Over a period of six months the Service carried out sensitisation programs in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano with a view to informing the trading public about this latest version of FT 2.0, and the roles and responsibilities expected of all parties in the clearance chain.
“The feedback gotten during this sensitisation, informed the design of a robust automated system with inbuilt filters capable of accessing our historical data and excluding traders who have displayed unwillingness to operate according to set down rules.”
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, in his remarks at the event, described the initiative as remarkable. He said the fast track looks more towards trade facilitation and ultimately higher revenue.
“It’ll help speed up clearance of goods for import and export. It is consistent with the objective of ease of doing business,” the Minister said.