Due to the incessant stealing of cargo at the airside of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos by clearing agents in connivance with some ground handling staff, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said it would introduce cargo escort to monitor the movement of cargo between that aspect of the airport to sheds.
Customs said with this, the era of missing cargo and massive revenue loss to the Federal Government would be a thing of the past.
The Customs Area Comptroller (CAC), Airport Command, Mrs. Jayne Shoboiki disclosed this plan during her tour of the DHL facilities at the airport.
She lamented that efforts in the past by the government to eradicate cargo theft at the airport had failed, but insisted that government would not back down in its efforts to eradicate theft at the airport.
She also challenged her officers at the airport to buckle up, threatening that anyone caught conniving with agents or ground handling staff to shortchange the government would be dealt with appropriately.
She further decried that several cargoes are lost during transfer of consignments from the shed of the two ground handling companies in the Nigerian aviation industry.
In addition to blocking the revenue leakages and to make the new system of cargo escort effective, she said operators would be made to sign a liability document, which would impose all liabilities incurred in case of cargo theft in the hands of terminal operators like DHL, Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL) and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc.
She hinted that Evaluation Officer from Customs were already working out the modalities that would lead to compliance and implementation of the new order.
She, however, said that some of the operators have started complying with this directive from the command, stressing that she would not relax in pushing for implementation of government policies in the command.
She reiterated that all loopholes noticed so far by her office would be blocked, adding that what is due to the federal government must be remitted to it.
Saying since she came on board some noticed some loopholes in the system vowing that those loopholes would be plugged.
"For instance, stealing of cargo by the agents in active connivance with the ground handling companies due to transfer from one shed to the other.
"I called the operators to a meeting that if goods are to be transferred, we are going to have escorts and that they will need letters by way of telling us that they are going to take liabilities if the cargo does not get to the terminals and duties declaration must be attached. Through the declaration, we will be able to know the revenues that were meant to be paid on each consignment."
It would be recalled that Shoboiki had on Thursday in her maiden meeting with stakeholders at the airport accused some ground handling staff of conniving with customs agents to steal cargo at the airport.
Shoboiki who was deployed to the command about a week ago, insisted that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) would no longer tolerate diversion of government revenues by some unscrupulous elements in the system, especially among the cargo agents.
She explained that within a week of her redeployment to the command, she had noticed some loopholes in the system, which she intended to plug, stressing that the command would no longer tolerate any act of indiscipline by any of the agents and other stakeholders in the system.
She also alleged that some of the ground handling staff at the tarmac not only connive with the agents to shortchange government of deserving revenues but also actively participate in stealing cargo on the tarmac.