The Officer on his own decision boarded an international cargo vessel which his company was an Agent of on arrival on Sunday, 20th December 2015 at 07.00am before the vessel was boarded and cleared by Customs and Bio-security Officials.
The Officer accompanied the Port Pilot and went on board before the vessel came to berth at the wharf. The boarding Officials learned that the Officer was already onboard when they boarded the vessel and were carrying out arrival clearance formalities at the Chief Officer’s Office.
The Officer was later called by the Customs Officials and spot fined an amount of 20,000vt under Section 35, Part 9 of Customs Regulation Order 113 of 2014 for breaching Section 30(3) of the Customs Act N0.7 of 2013. The Officer is not new to the roles/responsibilities of a ship’s Agent, and has been reminded several times in the past to ensure the Customs procedures and requirements are adhered to. This is not the first time an Officer of a Shipping Agent is penalised for not complying with Customs Laws. In 2013, an Officer of another Shipping Agent was penalised for failing to provide to Customs a 24 hours advance notice of arrival of a cargo vessel as required under Section 27 of the Customs Act.
Shipping Agents are advised that their Officers are not allowed to board arriving vessels when not yet boarded and cleared by Customs Officials, unless authorised by the Director of Customs and Inland Revenue under Section 30(3c) of the Customs Act. Only the Port Pilot and the medical Officer for the port/airport are allowed to board an arriving vessel before the Customs Officials under Section 30(3a,b).