4 Import And Export Mistakes That Nigerians Must Avoid In 2016

4 Import And Export Mistakes That Nigerians Must Avoid In 2016

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The import and export business in Nigeria like every other venture in life comes with its own form of risks and headaches.

These mistakes usually arise from human actions from the point of packing goods down to delivery.

The adage that says a stitch in time saves nine is absolutely apt when it comes to cargo clearing and business.

From my personal experience as a cargo handler, I will share 4 mistakes you must avoid at all costs.

4 Import And Export Mistakes That Nigerians Must Avoid In 2016

  1. Damage of Fragile Goods Due To Wrongful Packing:

This is a daily occurrence in the cargo business arising mostly from human and mechanical error.

Very fragile consignments are mostly found in the category of damaged goods.

They include;

  • Ceramics,
  • Breakable plates,
  • Cups, chandeliers,
  • Electronics and any other thing that is fragile in nature.

Weather conditions apart from human error also play a role in the damage of goods.

Let me illustrate by sharing my personal experience as a freight forwarder…

Some time ago, I tallied a Dubai and China cargo with airline operatives.

When the aircraft pallet was opened, I saw from the way the different goods were arranged, that a consignment clearly marked fragile was placed at the base of the pallet with non-fragile goods on top of it.

I called the attention of the tally officer who in turn called the attention of his supervisor who took a photograph of the pallet for official records and we went ahead with the sorting.

It turned out that the said consignment after sorting contained ceramic material for water cistern (W C) and it came out broken.

In the airlines PROOF OF DELIVERY, after sorting had taken place, I signed that I received 23packages of goods complete and intact with one broken.

The broken one was left with the airline and I delivered 22 packs.

What it means here is that the airline will bear the cost of replacing the damaged goods because it is evident that the damage arose from their error during stacking on a pallet from their base outside here.

If this was also not detected, I would have had to bear the cost of damage.

In other words, a clear and explicit marking, labeling and manifestation of goods will go a long way in checkmating the level of damages that occur in the cargo business.

The operatives and handlers should help by monitoring how baggage and cargo staff, including machine operators’ handle sensitive goods to avoid damage.


  1. Trying To Play Smart With Nigeria Customs Can Lead To Seizure

Nigerian Customs seizures happen frequently and these are mostly avoidable by clearing agents and importers.

This will be better understood in the following headings:

Concealment: concealment occurs when an agent tries to play a fast one during clearing by hiding a particular air waybill of goods inside another one and taking delivery without duty payment.

For instance, one may have an air waybill of 50 packages of goods and another air waybill of 20 packages.

Then he goes ahead to arrange both together, pays duty on the 50 packs without paying nothing on the 20.

This is cleverly done in a manner that the air waybill of 20 is not exposed on the body of the load. If this is detected during delivery, it could lead to customs seizure.

An importer is not to be blamed for this but most times the blame go to them for their unwillingness to pay the correct prices for import duty and clearing.

Overtime Cargo: this happens when a particular consignment has spent more than the required number of time in the cargo shed and with the unwillingness of importers to pay the accrued demurrage.

This can be taken by the Nigeria customs to the government warehouse for auction.

Wrong Declaration: this happens when what is manifested on the customs e-manifest is not what is detected during both physical examination and scanning.

This is avoidable because a concise advice from an agent to an importer will help in knowing the percentage of duty that every incoming consignment is supposed to pay thereby avoiding wrong declaration.

Non-Payment of Duty: It is highly avoidable and is not encouraged because the rigors of getting a consignment that falls into this category out of Government warehouse when seized is better not imagined.

Importing Prohibited Goods: With the rise of terrorism all over the world and the high-security risk we are subjected to, prohibited goods like firearms and Force Uniforms that are noticed during customs examinations go into outright seizure.

Except the importer has the required document from the various ministries in charge.


  1. Delay:

Delays may arise due to the following circumstances;

  • Non-availability of funds for clearing.
  • System breakdown or upgrade both at the sheds or banks not leaving out the DTI cafes.
  • Inability to meet up with demands from customs can lead to delay.
  • Transfer of cargo from one preferred terminal or shed.
  • Mechanical breakdowns also play their own part.


  1. Theft:

Different people are born with different characteristics.

This plays out in the clearing field where people with varying ideas mingle.

Some come out to the sheds or delivery points just for the sole reason of stealing or diverting someone else’s cargo for sale or personal use.

It is advised that at every given time, one must keep a close tab on all goods within his reach to avoid them being stolen or diverted.

It is only on rare occasions that the airlines that a blame in the loss of cargo.

When this is noticed on the part of airlines, it is their duty to provide such missing cargo or face litigation.



To summarize everything I’ve just written above, the four import and export mistakes you must avoid this year are:

  1. Damage of Fragile Goods Due To Wrongful Packing
  2. Trying To Play Smart With Nigeria Customs Can Lead To Seizure
  3. Delay of Goods
  4. Theft
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