The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has warned terminal operators against imposing extra charges on importers and customs agents for allowing them to transport their goods by badges from the seaports.
The Executive Director , Marine & Operations, NPA, Dr Sokonte Davies gave the warning at the quarterly meeting of the organization held for its stakeholders in Apapa Lagos over the weekend as it vowed to punish the concessionaires involved in such acts.
He pledged that NPA will investigate the operations of the various terminals with a view to imposing penalties on those it discovered to be surcharging importers for the use of badges instead of of offering the service free of charge.
Use of badges is the act of transporting cargoes generally by small craft through the waters to facilitate their delivery to specific destinations.
Davies disclosed that it set to evacuate all overtime containers from the Lagos seaports to Ikorodu Lighter Terminal to check congestion at the terminals.
NPA, in its capacity as the technical regulator and the landlord of the seaports supervises the activities of the terminal operators or the concessionaires in accordance with the agreement which the latter signed with the Federal Government under the concession programme of 2006 which saw the ports terminal operations ceded to the concessionaires for different periods.
The organization has decided to go tough with terminals on the issue of commercializing the use of charges, for the fact that it was also offering such service for importers without charging for it but has been doing so as part of measures to facilitate clearing of goods and beat the gridlock on the Ports Access Roads.
He had issued the warning sequel to complaints by stakeholders that some terminal operators were introducing extra charge on importers for the use of badges, thus increasing the cost of clearing goods at the seaports.
Dr Davies said rather than having port users to pay more for using charges to ferry goods , a development he said may discourage them , more importers should be encouraged to adopt the measure in the spirit of Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and reduction of the level of cargo dwell time .
Following, the gridlock which has characterised the Lagos Seaports Access Roads for some years now , stakeholders , including the NPA , terminal operators , the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) among others have been assisting importers to clear their goods through the use of badges.
On the the issue of overtime containers, which are goods that have stayed at the ports for more than 90 days , Dr Davies said that the NPA has finalized arrangements to remove them from the terminals to free space for incoming cargoes.
A good per centage of the containers at most of the Seaports are believed to be overtime cargoes which have been taking up spaces at the various terminals and making the places to be nearly congested , even when volume of goods that are imported have declined over time.