A freight forwarder, Alhaji Tajudeen Adetayo, on Saturday urged the Federal Government to inaugurate a committee to brainstorm on the issue of rice importation.
Adetayo, Chairman, Freight Forwarders Association Badagry (FFAB), made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) In Lagos.
He called for a reversal of the policy banning rice importation through the border posts.
NAN reports that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in October 2015 lifted the ban on rice importation through the borders but the service made a reversal of the policy in March 2016, due to heavy smuggling of the commodity.
The freight forwarder suggested that government should allow duty payment on rice through the border posts to generate more revenue.
He recalled that the Ogun Command of the Customs Service generated over N1 billion within the short period the ban on rice through the border posts was lifted.
Adetayo said that some people would continue to smuggle as long as government restricted rice importation through the border posts.
“Banning rice imports is not a good omen. When Nigeria has sufficient foods, then importation of rice can be banned.’’
Adetayo said that Customs could not man all the porous routes alone.
The freight forwarder said that activities at the border posts were also low due to the high exchange rate and the ban on rice, which had given room for smuggling.
He, however, called on the Nigeria Police to dismantle the 30 road blocks between Idiroko, Ajielete and Ilase.
Adetayo described the road blocks as major hindrance to trade, adding that a journey of one or two hours, might take five hours on the road.
“We do travel to Benin Republic and Togo with three to four check points to Togo.
“On roads leading to the border posts, the Police, Customs, everybody is at the check points
“Customs officers have the right to be at the road blocks but the Police should not be there,’’ he told our reporter.
The freight forwarder commended the Divisional Police Officer, officers and men of the Idiroko Divisional Police Office, adding that the officers were doing their best in terms of security.
“Car snatching, stealing have become minimal at the border posts. Commercial motorcyclists no longer move after 8.30 p.m. due to restriction of their movements,’’ NAN quotes Adetayo as saying.