By Francis Tim Mbom
The year 2022 was quite a successful year in the Southwest Customs Sector as they did remarkably well in raising close to FCFA 7 billion as revenue for the state.
Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, during an Awards Night on February 10, congratulated the Chief of Sector, Daniel Mongue Nyamsi, and his entire staff and collaborators across the Region. This success is said to have been achieved, thanks to the good strategies and a good working collaboration between the Chief of Sector and his collaborators in the different Customs Units across the Region, the security forces and, above all, the business public for their understanding.
Following a recent visit to the Tiko, Bota and Idenau Custom’s units, The Post found out that the Customs officers were all hard at work in a drive aimed at achieving their 2023 revenue targets and, above all, surpass their 2022 records.
Tiko’s First Semester Records Impressive
The Chief of Bureau for the Tiko Customs Unit, Stanley Asah Tadoh, disclosed that, for the first six months of 2023, they recorded a total collection of FCFA 766,168,000. This amount, he said, was in excess of their assigned target which stood at FCFA 660 million.
“So, we can say that we have, for the first semester of 2023, gone far above our target …,” Asah said.
In comparison to this same period in 2022, the Tiko Customs Boss said, 2023 figures are far better than their 2022 performance.
For the first six months in 2022, Tiko had a target collection of FCFA 567,500,000. But they succeeded and collected FCFA 429,605,000 giving 75.7 percent.
It’s because of their 2022 success that their target for the first six months in 2023 was increased to 660 million whereby they recorded an even more impressive record by collecting up to FCFA 766.1 million.
As to what led to this success, the Tiko Customs boss said in 2023, they made sure that every good that came into the Tiko Port was brought into the Tiko Customs House for effective evaluation and payment.
“The second and most important thing is that at the beginning of 2023, we had a meeting with our business stakeholders and we agreed to increase what we tax as revenue which should be the main reason for our success so far in 2023,” he said.
The Tiko Customs Chief of Commercial Bureau, Jean Ngo’o, added that one of the keys to their success has been the constant guidance and collaboration that they have been having from their hierarchy in Yaounde and, especially, too, the Southwest Chief of Customs, Daniel Mongue Nyamsi.
“He has constantly been giving us guidance and orientations that we have been making use of in the field to succeed.”
Bota On Success Path; Target Met Above 100 Percent
The Bota Customs Unit operates principally at the Bota Ports. It has other smaller posts such as Karata and a few others. The Chief of Unit, Nguena Yo Bol, disclosed that for the first semester of 2023, they have already registered a total collection of FCFA 90.46 million as against their first six months target which was set at FCFA 90 million. This means they recorded an above 100 percent success.
The Chief of the Commercial Brigade, Bota, Julius Nnane, added that, comparatively, they have had an increase of FCFA 50 million for the first six months of 2023 more than what they had for the same period in 2022.
Most importantly, he said, their relations with the business public that they deal with “is very very good.”
However, comparatively with the first semester of 2022, he said they didn’t meet their target which was set at FCFA 123 million. They recorded an FCFA 84.73 million.
Idenau Gunning For Another FCFA 1 Billion Recovery
Within the Southwest Customs Sector, Idenau happens to be a very important business hub. It is one of the towns closest to the Cameroon border with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy. Thus, a lot of Cameroonians, today, make use of thep terminal at Idenau for their export or importation of goods from Nigeria. Thus, the Customs Unit at Idenau is quite a busy one.
The Chief of Brigade Idenau, Palle Enongene, the Chief of the Commercial Brigade, Boukar, and the Chief in Charge of Verification and Assessment, Customs Inspector Frankline Lantang Yuven, were all optimistic that Idenau would meet its 2023 targets.
Inspector Lantang remarked that since 2021, Idenau’s annual collection has not gone below FCFA 1 billion. This record, he said, has been thanks to the effective implementation of the policies put in place by their hierarchy and to the dedication and commitment of the Idenau Unit Customs staff who work on a seven days schedule with the exception of official public holidays.
The Chief of Commercial Brigade stated that, for the years 2021 and 2022, Idenau has recorded an above FCFA 1 billion collection. He stated that this has been, specifically, due to the decision they took, some two years back, to ensure that “no cargo truck sleeps at Idenau after its goods must have been loaded.” This policy of quick treatment of the documents of transporters so as to enable them move off with their goods after loading has “significantly led to an increase of our revenue collection,” Boukar said.
As regards the first six months of 2023, Inspector Lantang disclosed that the Idenau Unit has made a total revenue collection of about FCFA 555 million. He said the first six months of 2022 were slightly better because they had about FCFA 631 million.
He, however, said this slight drop in 2023 was owing to the effects of the Nigerian elections where, for some periods, transporters, owing to the situation in Nigeria, could not transport their goods from Nigeria to Cameroon.
He was, nevertheless, optimistic that they will surely meet their target for this year 2023.
Stringent Fight Against Contraband Goods
One other key duty of the Customs sector is to check against the importation of goods that can be harmful to the health of the people in the country or harmful to the business of locally produced goods.
From Tiko through Bota to Idenau, The Post found that the Customs have been, besides collecting revenue, putting up a good fight against the importation or exportation of contrabands.
At Tiko, the Chief of Customs Brigade disclosed that just for 2023, they have had six files of seized goods made up of doubtful medications from Nigeria by some importers. Besides, some business persons still try to go against the law by importing Guinness products from Nigeria to sell in Cameroon which the Customs said is against the laws. Meanwhile, other dealers have continued to defy the law by importing biodegradable plastics which the Government, in a drive to protect the environment, has put a stop to.
The Customs authorities of Tiko, Bota and Idenau were all thankful to the Head of State and the Government for having decided to carry on with the construction of the Limbe Deep Seaport. This construction which is going to lead to a big improvement of the Port facilities of Tiko, Bota and Idenau, will go a long way to resolve some of the problems that the Customs units here are facing as a result of the current state of these different ports.
For instance, the Chief of Commercial Brigade for Bota noted that the Bota Wharf has a problem where some old abandoned ships have blocked the quay and so, boats that bring in goods, presently, face the problem of where to dock. Besides, the quay needs some extension into the sea in order that they can gain more depth and then, give room for bigger cargo vessels from Togo and Benin to be able to come in and anchor.
Meantime, at Idenau, the entrance to the port terminal, the Customs officials said, was rocky and, therefore, container ships cannot enter the terminal. This has forced Idenau to be dependent on wooden boats which cannot carry certain goods that big container ships do.
Besides, the fact that Equatorial Guinea does not welcome wooden boats on its shores has made business between Idenau and Equatorial Guinea very impossible.
Idenau also needs a bigger warehouse where vehicles that transport goods can drive in and get loaded when it is raining. Idenau happens to be within the same weather zone as Debundscha, the highest rainy place in Africa. Thus in the absence of a bigger warehouse, it is usually difficult for transporters to load their goods whenever it is raining at Idenau.
The Customs officials were all upbeat that if all their main difficulties are met, this will go a long way to significantly improve on their revenue collection for the state and services that they render to the business public and Cameroon as a whole.