Persistent refusal by shipping companies to transfer their containers to off-dock facilities, and total control of allocation of ships by concessionaires, have been identified as the root causes of buildup of congestion in the nation’s seaports situated in Lagos.
Both factors were pinpointed by a Lagos-based licensed customs agent, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, in a position paper addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan with the title ‘The Building up of Congestion at Lagos Ports and the Need for Government Urgent Intervention to Save the Nation Sea Port from Total Collapse’.
Besides Nigeria’s premier port, Apapa Quay, Lagos is also home to Tin Can Island Port (TCIP), Apapa and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Apapa. THISDAY got an exclusive copy of the position paper.
Amiwero, who is also the Managing Director and chief executive officer of Eyis Resources Limited, also identified the fact that no agency was responsible for what he called “inefficient and unethical operations” at the nation’s seaports.
According to him, the failing concession of Lilypond off-dock terminal, shipping companies and port operation, as well as the high cost of clearance of goods from the port, were also responsible for the buildup of congestion at Lagos ports.
The position paper, which was also copied to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, as well as the Minister of Transport, expressed fear that the congestion was a threat to the economy and the concession agreements entered into by the federal government and the concessionaires.
“The situation has assumed an alarming proportion, which if not urgently checked will create serious economic imbalance and devastating effect to our port system”, Amiwero added. He argued that the present congestion being experienced in Lagos was the refusal of shipping companies to transfer the containers owned by their Lines to off-dock facilities.
His words: “The refusal has created build up in the Lagos Ports, which is presently associated with delay in the positions of containers for scanning, physical examination and delivery, which sometimes take weeks, with the inefficiency and cost still borne by the importer /licensed Customs agents.
“The contact of carriage by sea, limit the action of the shipping companies, as such containers are under lease to the importer who can use such container on ‘through’ bill of lading contract, while the terminal operators who are the receivers of the cargo from the line to their facilities are the ones responsible with the consent of the importer based on the clause in the bill of lading to any agreed off dock terminal within reach at no cost to the importer”.
According to Amiwero, the major cause of unethical practice and increase of port cost is the total control of the allocation/steaming of ship by concessioners, which allows them to keep containers at the detriment of the economy and refuse to allocate containers to off-dock terminal that are lying fallow.
The activities have led in delay and high cost to the importer/licensed Customs agents for their deficiency of the terminal operators, due to non-intervention by any government agencies for control of such unethical practice.
He maintained that the critical control of any port system is the intervention by government as safety measures for the effective control, management of the ships, cargo distribution and the control of tariff so as to reduce bottlenecks, international surcharge, congestion fees, and the reduction of high cost of clearance.
Information from This Day was used in this report.