Apapa Gridlock: Customs Agents Urge FG to Grant Waivers on Goods

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Eromosele Abiodun

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has called on the federal government to consider the difficulty in accessing and exiting the ports in Lagos due to the terrible condition of the access roads and grant waivers, concession to goods held up at the ports.

NCMDLCA stated this in a petition addressed to the acting President, Yemi Osinbanjo and signed by its national president, Mr. Lucky Amiwero.

The bad condition of the roads, they stated, “has assumed an alarming proportion leading to daily destruction of loaded goods that always fall on cars, trailers and sometime on persons.”

According to him, “as a member of the Presidential Committee on the Realisation of 48 hours Clearance of Cargo from Nigerian Ports and Borders, Presidential Task force on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service Committee on Port problem and inter- Ministerial Committee of National Facilitation Committee (FAL) (IMO) and The Task Force on the Review of Port Charges, we are indeed, concerned about the state of our port access roads in the Lagos area that account for almost 75/80 per cent of cargo throughput in the country.”

They pointed out that the clearance of goods from Lagos ports is associated with high demurrages, rents, risk of carriage and continuous delay, “which have heightened the cost of transportation, increase the number of days to access and exist the port with the attendant carriage risk of continuous falling of containers due to terrible condition of the access road within the port area. This has greatly increased the cost due to Inconsistency, Lack of Transparency and predictability in the Clearance of goods, which requires government urgent intervention.”

NCMDLCA said the deplorable condition of the port access roads linking Apapa, Tincan Island, PTML Lily Pond and Brawal with serious damage portion, deep potholes and flood around the roads, always experience falling containers from trailers on private moving cars and sometimes persons.

“The effect of the negative impact created by the damaged road, portholes, the gridlock on the port access road, necessitated NCMDLCA to petition the federal government under the late President Musa Yar’Adua on the state of the port access roads and its implication to the nation’s economy . The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria then directed that action should be taken by the Minister Federal Ministry of Work, Housing and Urban Development through a letter and copied the President of the NCMDLCA dated 21st of July 2009 with references/PSP/21/92 OF 2009.

“Eight years after the approval by the President in 2009, the port access roads leading to the economic gateway to the nation that contribute almost 40 per cent of non -oil revenue to the national coffers are still not rehabilitated till 2017. The neglect is a serious setback to the nation, as the bad potholes, flooded port access roads and the gridlock constitutes almost 25 per cent of the cumbersome, lengthy procedure and port process, which accounts for associated delays and the highest Port cost in the sub region that encourage cargo diversion to other neighbouring country’s Port and places the nation at the bottom of ease of doing business, “Amiwero said.

He added, “To access or exit the port takes days ,which result to high demurrages and rents and the risk of carriage to drivers along the access roads , that is extremely dangerous and has attracted multiple cost of transportation in Lagos Ports.

“The port access road constitutes a stumbling block to our International maritime traffic as it has limited trade facilitation process by constituting death threats to port operators, daily destruction of loaded goods from the ports and huge threat to lives and properties for smooth and uninterrupted operation of armed robbers

“We hereby appeal to the federal government to urgently come to the aid of the port users, operators and the importing community who are daily exposed to the risk of falling containers on Cars and persons, destruction of loaded goods and daily armed robbery.”