By Blessing Ifeoma
Customs agents have written to the federal government demanding their intervention in getting service providers in the ports to grant special concession, waivers on demurrage and rent to owners of goods that spend more time as required in the ports.
The agents explained that this was because of the gridlock in Apapa that has made clearance of goods out of the ports difficult.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated November 7, the President of National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Agents (NCMDCA), Mr Lucky Amiwero said the time it takes to take delivery out of the ports has more than tripled as a result of the gridlock.
Amiwero said trailers spend weeks now in “moving into the ports in lagos to load goods and days to move out of the Port”.
He said in the letter “the condition has assumed an alarming proportion of daily occurrence on the destruction of loaded goods, which in most cases fall from the trailers on cars, on persons as a result of the mighty potholes, gridlocks, flooded potion and very bad assess roads leading to the Ports In Lagos
“ As member of the Presidential Committee on the realization of 48 hours clearance of cargo from Nigerian Ports and Borders, Presidential Task force on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service Committee on Port problem and inter- Ministerial Committee of National Facilitation Committee (FAL) (IMO) and The Task Force on the Review of Port Charges we are concerned and disturbed by the effect of the impact to the economy that account for almost 75% of non Oil Revenue to government”.
Amiwero added, “the clearance of goods from Lagos Ports is associated with High demurrages, rents, risk of carriage and continuous delays, which have heightened the cost of transportation, increase the number of weeks to access and exit the ports in Lagos, with the attendant carriage risk of continuous falling of Containers due to terrible condition of the assess road within the port areas”.
“This has greatly increased the time, the cost of transportation and the risk within the port environment to the port operators and port users who are daily exposed to accidents by trailer, falling of container, Okada and man hour spent on the road daily by Port operators”.
He explained that the intervention of the government was needed since it was its responsibility to address the issues that have affected movement of goods out of the ports freely.
He said, “The responsibility to grant free access way for trailers going in to the Port and out, is performed by the Nigerian Port Authority(NPA) through the regulation by Minister of Transport under section 32-(1) (A) for the maintenance, control and management of regulating traffic within the Limits of a Port or the approach to a port( the Port Access Roads)
“Furthermore, the Nigeria shippers Council (NSC) Act under Section 3 (f) allows the Council to negotiate and enter into agreements with conference lines and Non conference lines, ship-owners, the Nigerian Ports Authority and any other bodies on matters affecting the interest of shippers.
“ The Minster of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Nigerian Shippers Council are by the provision of the various Acts , responsible for the removal of the gridlocks, potholes and create free flow of traffic into the port, while Nigerian Shippers Council are to intervene on behalf of Nigeria Shipper/Importer to seek for waiver/concession, who groan under great economic loss daily due to grid lock and bad access roads leading in to the Ports In Lagos”.
“ The impact created by the situation in Lagos ports, calls for urgent Federal Government Intervention to address the pensive and tension soaked situation that is negatively affecting the import and export process in Lagos Ports, which results to, weeks of delays for trucks to move into the port and days to exit the port
“To access or exit out and in of the port takes days ,which results to high demurrages and rents and the risk of carriage to drivers along the access roads , that is extremely dangerous and has attracted multiple cost of transportation in Lagos Ports, which requires total Demurrage/ Rent waiver of the days and weeks the truck take to enter and exit the port.
The port access road constitutes a stumbling block to our International Maritime traffic as it has limited trade Facilitation process by constituting death threats to port operators, daily destruction of loaded goods from the ports and huge threat to lives and properties for smooth and uninterrupted operation of armed robbers
“The provision to control, manage and maintain the port access roads is contained in the Port Act 32-(1)(a) and part of the 7% port Development Sub-construction levy that is collected by NPA be used for the purpose of the rehabilitation pending the project the for reconstruction of the road”.
By Blessing Ifeoma