By Gboyega Oni
The management of Inland Container Nigeria Limited – ICNL – has debunked the rumor that it treated importers and other users of its Inland Containers Depots (ICDs) in Kano and Kaduna unfairly when there was a delay in the transfer of containers from Apapa Port, Lagos to the ICDs in the two northern cities of Nigeria by Mearsk Lines recently.
It will be recalled that in June 2017 the internet facility of AP Moller-Mearsk Group globally was hacked which however caused delay in its cargo transaction worldwide. Nigeria had a fair share of it as transfer of containers to ICNL terminals by the giant shipping company was delayed.
While the hacking lasted, all cargo destined for the ICDs had accumulated heavy demurrage as importers and other users were counting their losses.
Sympathetic to the plights of its customers, ICNL, in an audience with PortNews in Lagos, said it had to give major importers discounts on its charges to relieve them of the biting effects of the demurrage on their businesses.
Defraying the demurrage, ICNL said the shipping line – Maersk Line granted waivers to the importers, noting that customers can still be granted waivers if they apply for it.
ICNL management said it has never increased or added to its charges as all the containers transferred to ICD are not surcharged.
For an effective and efficient cargo delivery in the ICDs, ICNL said it has provided enough cargo handling infrastructure like reachstakers, trucks and others, adding that conducive working tools like accommodation and modern ICT software were also provided for all government agencies like Customs, National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and others operating in the ICDs so as to make them perform their functions smoothly.
Besides making government agencies comfortable, the organisation said it would continue to strive to create harmonious relationship with other stakeholders like licensed customs agents, importers using the facilities etc.
On the safety of containers on transit from Lagos, ICNL said “to ensure effective and safe transit, the Nigeria Customs Services provides able officers as escorts to ensure that bonded containers arrive at the depots within a reasonable time and with seals intact.”
It noted that the creation of the bonded terminals was necessitated to decongest the port in Lagos where grossly inadequate precipitating excessive delays in turn round time of vessels at the Nigeria harbors.
Major among customers patronizing Kaduna and Kano ICDs are manufacturing companies, state governments, local government council, construction companies, tertiary institutions and oil companies.
In a separate interview with PortNews in Kano, Alhaji Kazeem Adeniyi, Chairman, Kano Chapter of Nigeria Association Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) on the operations of ICNL in the two terminals, praised ICNL management for listening to their complaints during the delay crisis and reported their complaints to Mearsk Lines which eventually granted waivers to importers.
ANLCA chairman noted that ICNL has a strong and cordial relationship with licensed customs agents but advised them to call stakeholders to an interactive meeting whenever needs arise to resolve any problem in future.
While speaking on the role of the Nigerian Railways Corporation on timely transportation of containers from Lagos Port to the ICDs, Alhaji Adeniyi advised federal government to invest more in the railway transportation mode, noting that the present railway system in the country is not efficient as all their tracks are easily taken over by flood whenever rain falls.
By Gboyega Oni