The Federal Government might come heavily on Tin Can Island Container Terminal Limited, the concessionaire in charge of Ashaye terminal of the Tin Can Island Port Complex over the massive cargo congestion that has rocked the terminal which has been blamed on poor logistics.
The two major associations; National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), had given the TICT management a one week ultimatum to address the logistic problems or face a strike action.
Minister of Transport, Mallam Idris Umar, who toured the port recently, frowned at the slow and unprofessional manner of cargo transfer from the terminal to the scanning site, managed by Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, the service provider in charge of the Ashaye terminal.
The minister had, in company of the area controller of the Tin Can Island command of the Nigeria Customs Service; Mallam Zakari Jibrin toured the port at the wake of the congestion, linking the cargo buildup with inadequate logistics supply by the concessionaire, TICT.
While touring the port, the Minister bemoaned the slow process of transfer of cargo by the terminal operator and also expressed worries at the incessant breakdown of the concessionaire’s server, which he said compounded the problem by making goods clearing procedure very slow.
The minister had warned that the government would not tolerate complacency on the part of any concessionaire, who fails to comply with any area of the concessionaire especially by failing to provide the necessary logistics that aid efficient cargo delivery at the seaports.
According to the minister who was accompanied by top officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) during the factfinding tour, the congestion problem could have largely been averted if the delays associated with feeding the scanning facilities with containers were identified early and checked.
It was however gathered that an average of 150-200 containers are transferred daily as against the 400 containers, which the service provider has installed capacity to handle daily as it was the case when it handled the scanning of containers at Apapa, Nigeria’s largest container terminal.
The minister, who was also informed that the situation was further compounded by the space constraint faced by the terminal operator occasioned by the littering of empty containers at the terminal, ordered the immediate set up of a solution-driven committee to be headed by the Executive Director Port and Marine Operations of NPA with representatives from Customs, TICT, NPA, shipping firms, Cotecna, and the major freight forwarding associations.
The customs-boss had while speaking with news men recently on the activities of the command blamed the congestion on the inability of the terminal operator, TICT to supply containers to the scanning site.
“We went round the terminal with the Minister and the representatives of the service provider and the terminal operators and we all saw the problem.
TICT has a lot of cargo, no space because empty containers have taken over most of the available spaces. Cotecna is waiting to scan but there is usually no transfer of cargo from TICT because of logistic problem”, the Customs boss said.
Jibrin also said: “Cotecna has told us that they have capacity to can scan more than 400 containers daily but TICT can only make 200 available to them and sometimes less because the trucks are inadequate.
They have not allowed Customs to test the true scanning capacity of Cotecna by supplying them with the 400 so that everybody can see”. “But I can also assure you that the problem with TICT is being addressed.
There are now about to begin massive transfer of containers to off dock facilities and we do hope that this will take care of most of the problems”, he assured.
Meanwhile, image maker of Cotecna, Alhaji Aminu Mohammed, who spoke in a telephone chat, insisted that the capacity of the installed scanners at Tin Can Port is grossly underutilised.
He revealed; while the daily capacity of the 9.0 MeV fixed scanner at Tin Can Ashaye terminal is 400 containers daily, the mobile scanner at Tin Can Roll-On-Roll-Off (RoRo) terminal is 360 containers.
It was gathered that in the last month, the company has so far accomplished only daily average of 185 and 108 containers daily respectively for the two sites.
He disclosed that as a short term solution to the problem, Cotecna has commenced talks with the management of Ports and Cargo Services, a member of the SIFAX Group under which it has granted the firm a space at the RoRo scanner site to stack containers near its equipment to enhance faster scanning services.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.