The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO) said on Tuesday that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had ordered the release of 40 trucks of unprocessed woods impounded from its members.
The Chairman of AMARTO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, told newsmen in Lagos that the trucks were impounded by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ in Ikeja.
He said that the trucks were seized between October 2015 and February 2016 on their way to the ports, carrying unprocessed woods classified under the Customs Export Prohibition List.
The AMARTO boss said that the association was introducing an indemnity form for its members in order to exonerate them whenever they are accosted by Customs.
“This is to be done in collaboration with the Association of Woods Exports and Processing and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS),” he said.
Ogungbemi said that some shippers and clearing agents were the causes of problems faced by truckers because most of them failed to declare correctly what they were carrying for either export or import.
The AMARTO boss expressed gratitude to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, and other customs officers at the headquarters in Abuja for their magnanimity in releasing the seized trucks.
He said that owners of the trucks and their businesses had been stranded since the trucks were impounded.
“More than 40 trucks were impounded, some were seized at FOU, Tin-Can Island and Apapa but majority of the trucks are at FOU Ikeja.
“Tomorrow we would go to Ikeja to take inventory and take stock of the trucks there and process their release. This will require us hiring a crane to put the containers down,’’ Ogungbemi said.
He explained that the management of Customs intervened, adding that after findings and investigations, they discovered that truck drivers were not the shippers and that the drivers were not involved.
“Out of their (NCS) magnanimity, Customs ordered the release of the trucks.
“Our members are suffering and falling victims because an unscrupulous shipper will not tell Customs what they are exporting or importing.
“I am highly impressed that the management of Customs deemed it fit to send somebody from Abuja. The person came to brief and educated us on what and what we should be carrying,” the AMARTO boss said..
Speaking on the introduction of indemnity form for truckers, Ogungbemi said the form was free.
“Our members would not know which one is legitimate and which one is illegitimate.
“This is why we have come up with an indemnity form which will contain all the information about the agent, the importer, the loading point and the agency name,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes the AMARTO boss as saying.
According to him, this is to ensure that if our trucks are accosted, through the form, the authority will know all the information about the cargo”
“Most times, truck drivers do not know their importers or the agents of the cargoes but with the indemnity form they will know all information about the cargo they carry.
“We want to indemnify our members and this is why we are embarking on the use of forms.
“We will go further to seek audience with the management of Nigeria Customs Service to approve and authorise the form so that it would become a condition by which all trucks would be allowed into the port to load or discharge cargoes.
“Shippers should declare correctly what is going out or coming into the country. They are the people giving us all these problems and not the Customs.
“If all shippers can be honest, there would be no need for Customs to arrest our members,’’ NAN further quotes him as saying.(NAN)