From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
In order to further check issues of food poisoning, the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has charged transporters conveying agricultural produce across the country to ensure compliance with NAQS compulsory checks at the food control posts.
Coordinating Director of the Service, Dr. Vincent Isegbe made the call at the weekend in Abuja.
He stressed that officers of the NAQS have the obligation to check agricultural produce especially along the Federal Highways.
In a statement from the office of the Coordinating Director, Media, Communications and Strategies, signed by Dr. Chukwuma Nwodo, transporters must stop at quarantine control posts for agro-produce inspection.
He noted that in a meeting held last year December with stakeholders in the industry including transporters, some modalities were agreed upon including obeying provisions of the NAQS regulations.
It reads: “The NAQS wishes to remind the general public, especially dealers in agro-commodities, of the mandatory requirement to stop at the Quarantine Control Posts along the Federal Highways for inspection of their goods.
“This reminder has become necessary in the wake of increasing reports of the non-adherence of the truckers to the regulation to stop at the control posts for the inspection of their goods.
“For the avoidance of doubt, NAQS officers who are manning the control posts are under obligation to carry out compulsory checks on agricultural produce on Federal Highways. The purpose of the inspection is to improve disease surveillance and pest control as prescribed by the extant laws.
“NAQS reiterates that the requirement to stop at the NAQS Quarantine Control Posts for inspection permits no exemption. It is also a product of series of consultations with stakeholders.”
“At the third and last meeting of the Implementation Committee on Curtailment of Cattle Rustling in Nigeria which was held in Abuja on December 8, 2017, stakeholders –comprising the various State Commissioners of Agriculture; Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria; Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association; Indigenous Cattle Breeders Association; Gan Allah Fulani Development Association; Amalgamated Cattle Dealers Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Association of Agricultural Produce Dealers; Nigeria Lorry Drivers Association; National Association of Road Transport Owners; and National Union of Road Transport Workers –adopted a Communiqué which spelt out the modalities for the operationalization of quarantine control posts along trade routes.
“In that meeting, all stakeholders unanimously agreed that inspection of the agricultural produce and agro-allied products and payment of the associated service charge take place only at NAQS Control Posts at Jebba, Lokoja, Makurdi, Gada Buki, Katsina-Ala, Orokam, Bode-Saadu and Riyom, which are strategically located within the North Central zone of the country.”
He added that, “The amounts chargeable by the NAQS for inspection of different categories of agricultural produce are available on NAQS website. Payments are receipted and no transporter or animal owner is required to pay another levy at any other control post or check point as far as he or she is able to produce evidence of having paid such fee in any post along the Federal Highway.”
However, the NAQS warned that the ban on revenue collection on agricultural produce and agro-allied products by private consultants on the Federal Highways remains in force.
“All checkpoints mounted by individuals who are contracted by State Governments for the purpose of such levy collection are illegal and the Inspector General of Police has expressly ordered their permanent removal.
The statement reads in part: “All transporters of agricultural produce and dealers in agricultural produce are advised to procure loading/off-loading permits from only State Ministries of Agriculture at the state of origin after inspection and certification. These documents shall be confirmed by NAQS at the Control Posts with the issuance of movement permit and user fee receipt subject to the payment of the stipulated charge for the service.”
“NAQS will no longer condone the obstruction of the duty of her officers by transporters who, in a bid to evade the inspection and certification formalities, block the highway and create scenes that often degenerate into the frenzied destruction of government properties at the control posts. This must stop.
“Henceforth, the individuals who engage in this unruly behavior and the union leaders who promote that penchant for lawlessness will be arrested and prosecuted. Obstruction of the Federal Highway is an offence and culpable motorists shall not go scot-free. The general public is enjoined to take this notice seriously and comply in the interest of all concerned,” It stated further.