22 September 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The management of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, has threatened to sanction terminal operators that deliberately delay cargo clearance at the nation’s ports.
Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, gave this hint when he paid an unscheduled visit to the Tin-Can Island Container Terminal to ascertain the true position of operations at the ports following several complaints by importers and Customs agents at the Lagos ports.
The team visited the offices of the Cotecna Destination Inspection Agency Limited, the Nigeria Custom Service, and the scanning site of the TICT terminal to ascertain the main problems at the terminal.
Bello who was accompanied by other senior officials of the Council, as well as frontline maritime expert, Otunba Kunle Folarin, said that the tour was a follow up to the visit of Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Affairs, Mr. Leke Oyewole.
He expressed shock at the sight of so many freight forwarders who sat down doing nothing within the terminals even as some of them, on seeing the team, chanted that the cargo examination does not take effect at the terminal until 12.pm.
After going round the terminals, Bello said that the cargo clearance procedures at the terminal is primitive and that this must be upgraded to be at par with other countries of the world.
“We can’t have such procedures happening in Nigerian ports, otherwise the actualisation of the benefits of the port reform will be defeated,” he said.
Bello said that there is a serious concern from the Federal Government as regards cargo clearance and the efficiency of the terminal operators.
“What we have seen is not very pleasant to the eyes and ears, first of all, the shippers that own the cargo are being made to face a lot of cumbersome, time wasting procedure, the clearance time for cargo is very lengthy and this is not supposed to be, the port is not a storage facility, it is a transit facility where cargoes are cleared as soon it is brought to port”
According to him, there will be serious sanctions for terminals that fail to live up to expectation.
Also, he was shocked at the tardiness exhibited by men of the Customs Service who arrived late to their duty post to carry out examination on containers.
The Terminal Manager of the TICT, Mr. Richard Akinbosotu , denied allegations leveled against his organisation by the operators that it does not position containers on time for examination.
According to him, it is the fault of the freight forwarders and the Customs that fail to appear on time to carry out physical examination on cargoes.
“It takes the TICT two weeks to position containers, after this you go to Customs and they tell you there is an alert, they call it city alert, Abuja alert and it takes you another three weeks to solve the alert problem, some of our containers here have stayed for two months,” a freight forwarder voluntered.
However, Secretary of the Tin Can Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr. Davis Chucks Kanikwu, pointed out that the scanners used by the service providers are designed mainly for homogeneous goods. Kanikwu alleged that the scanners do not have capacity to scan 400 containers as claimed by Cotecna.
“These people will tell us that they can scan 400 containers in a day, if they do it for one week, the scanners break down for another week,” he said.