12 February 2015, Lagos – Congestion at the ports is beginning to gather momentum as importers have abandoned their cargoes following the continuous slide of the Naira against the American dollar which currently stands at N250 to $1.
Besides, there has also been a steady increase in number of abandoned containers particularly at the Tin Can Island port.
Stakeholders confirmed to Vanguard that the worsening exchange rate situation has prompted the Tin Can Island Customs Command to increase its official transaction rate from N165 to all-time high N199 to a dollar.
Confirming the development, the Customs Area Controller in charge of the Tin Can Island Customs, Mr. Zakari Jibrin said recently that the Auto Policy of the Federal Government and the upcoming 2015 election has caused importers to abandon their cargoes at the port.
In an interview, Vice Chairman of the Tin Can Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mrs Ada Akpunonu said that the instability in the exchange rate has caused importers to stay away from importation and that imported cargoes have been abandoned at the port.
According to her, commercial banks have equally stopped lending money to potential businessmen.
Speaking on the imminent port congestion, Akpunonu said, “many goods are trapped at the port, there is bound to be congestion, most of the importers borrowed money from the banks, before they collect their Bill of Lading they must make the payment, but what is happening now is that, with the exchange rate, they are finding it difficult to get the balance and pay back in order to collect the papers and clear their goods”
“Many importers with Bill of Lading are finding it difficult to pay duties. There is no cargo that does not go into demurrage in Nigeria and shipping companies start collecting money immediately the cargo lands at the port” she said.
Akpononu confirmed that customs is currently implementing an official transaction rate of N199 to US$1 for transactions.