The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council have been urged to compel port terminal operators to transfer containers to off-dock terminals so as to end perennial congestion in nation’s seaports, which its cause is attributed to inadequate cargo handling equipments and greed for profits by the terminal operators.
Enforcing the terminal operators to stem containers to the off-docks will also end redundancy which has characterized the off-dock terminals, boost government revenue and breathe life into the operations of freight forwarders and others ancillary service providers in and around the off-docks .
The chairman of Association of License Customs Agents, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) chapter, Mr. Goddy Soleji, in a post-award interview with PortNews on congestion in the ports in Lagos recently, counseled the NPA and the Nigerian Shippers Council to force concessionaires to stem containers to off-docks.
Soleji noted that when the mother ports were established, the volume of cargo coming to Nigeria was not as high as this, but with the increase in the volume as a result of increase in population, government licensed private investors to establish the off-docks to save the mother ports from congestion.
He noted that before the concession in 2006 NPA was transferring containers to KLT and other off-dock terminals regularly but with the takeover of the port terminals by the concessionaires, transfer of containers to all these facilities has become erratic and in some cases stopped completely except the off-docks that belong to the concessionaires are safe.
The ANLCA Chairman said it is amused to note that the terminals operators hardly adhere to the instruction of the government on container transfer to off-docks despite it was the same government that granted them the power to operate the port terminals.
‘’When the ports were constructed many years back the volume of cargo was not as high as we have it now and to save the port from congestion, the federal Government granted off dock licenses. It is amused that port concessionaires disobey the government directive on transfer of container to off-docks. They believe that government can no longer interfere in the way they run their business because it has been conceded to them; but this is not true.
‘’The mother ports are congested and this is as a result of greed, the terminal operators want more money at the expense of the end user. If the congestion continues it will surely affect the end users; the cost of clearing will surely increase. The regulatory bodies, NPA and Nigerian Shippers Council, have the right to enforce it on the concessionaires to obey the directive of government on transfer of cargoes to off-dock terminals and customs controller will ensure that correct revenue due for government is collected to ease way of doing business,’’ noted Soleji.
Soleji maintained that the port concessionaires cannot because of their inadequacies in cargo handling facilities and greed for profit and starve off-docks built with billions of Naira of containers.
Speaking on the remuneration for licensed customs agents, the KLT Chairman said the agents deserve a better remuneration that a collection of charges from their principal, importers. He noted that in other climes, customs agents are being paid commission on the amount of revenue they generate for the customs, adding that Nigerian customs agents deserve a commission from the Nigeria Customs Service on the volume of revenue they generate.
‘’We are only living on service charge which is so merger. There has been clamour for a commission for customs agents as it is obtainable all over the world but in Nigeria here, it is not so. There is custom procedure which states the rights and duties of customs agents clearly but nobody cares in Nigeria and the Customs has refused to play its part. All over the world customs pays a particular percentage to the agents that help in the process of revenue collections; yet to be so in Nigeria,’’ said Soleji.
Soleji bagged the award of Best Association Chairman of Maritime and Aviation Stakeholders Gold Award.