A maritime industry pressure group, Advocacy for Maritime Development Association of Nigeria (AMDAN), has accused shipping companies, port and off-dock container terminal operators of disrupting the federal government ease of doing business through an orchestrated collusion to delay container return which results in a loss of about N80 billion annually.
In an exclusive interview in Apapa port last week, Mr. Segun Alabi, the President of the association, disclosed that Nigeria is not only the latest dumping ground for empties and disused containers from Maritime West/Central Africa, but the development portends an economic drain pipe through which Nigeria loses about N80 billion yearly from seedy and very unpatriotic collusion by the troika of foreign shipping companies, port terminal operators and off-dock bonded container terminal operators.
“Nigeria is bleeding and our health is sagging. Do you know that all traffic hiccups, terrible gridlock of container trucks you see overwhelming us around Lagos ports are orchestrated and masterminded by a clique? It is indeed a conspiracy against the people and the economy of Nigeria,” explained the President.
He continues: “Do you know that shipping companies collect money for offloading containers in a bonded terminal? Why? I am talking from a personal experience and from the findings of our investigations. lf a truck driver approaches a bonded terminal to drop an empty container after he probably had stayed on queue for days, the terminal manager and the shipping company’s representatives ask him to pay for handling charges for their reachstacker to offload the empty container. This is about N50 to N150 thousand. If he fails to cooperate he would have to wait for days during which the driver’s health suffers, the truck owner loses money and most painful, the importer loses his container deposit fee. When add this extortion money cumulatively it amounts to about eighty billion Naira annually taken slyly from our importers and freight forwarders.”
The President said that the traffic gridlock would remain in order to continue this extortion more so because NPA traffic officials, security officers and other unseen forces are all making cheap, illicit monies from the traffic crisis. “It is one huge extortion racket running into billions bleeding and punishing our people,” he lamented.
AMDAN has not folded its arms while all these anomalies occur. The President said he and his team had met with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council with complaints and asked the regulator to intervene. They also plan to meet the management of NPA with suggestions on how to tackle this menace. “We have met top officers of the Customs about these problems and hope they can be of help in finding solutions. And we are also very worried about the new official exchange rates of Naira to the dollar for customs clearing. At 405 Naira prices of goods and services will skyrocket and the common man will suffer for it gravely. As an advocacy group we call on the federal government and customs authorities to rescind this decision or find a midway solution by reducing the exchange rate,” Alabi concluded.