By Eromosele Abiodun
Some Customs agents in the country have called on the federal government to immediately address the deficiency and high cost of clearing goods at the ports.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, the agents stated that the cost of doing business at the Lagos ports have increased by 500 per cent as a result of the intractable Apapa gridlock.
National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), a body of customs agents in Nigeria, Lucky Amiwero, in the petition, decried the increased cost at the ports as a result of inaccessibility to the ports in Lagos.
This, he stated, was apart from demurrage on containers to shipping companies, rent to terminal operators, empty containers, “and loaded containers that consume deposit of containers and incur additional demurrage while empty containers cannot access the port.”
“An average expenses of N140,000.00 to N155,000.00 is given for 20 feet 20(TEU) truck before entering the Port. An average expenses of N215,000.00 to N250,000.00 is given for forty feet 40(FEU) trailer before entering the port .
“The return of 20 feet and 40 feet empty containers to holding bays costs about N 50, 000.00 to N65,000.00 and N80,000.00 to N100,000.00 respectively, facilitated by government agencies.”
Giving a breakdown of local transportation from Tincan Island port to bonded warehouse and within Lagos, he said: “From Tincan Island to Clarion Bonded warehouse- N330,000.00 to N400,000.00. From Tincan Island to Classic Bonded warehouse-N380, 000.00 to N400,000.00. From Tincan Island to Handover bonded warehouse-N120,000.00 to N150,000.0.
“From Tincan Island to Ladipo –N750, 000.00 to-N800,000.00, from Tincan Island to Alaba – N700,000.00 to N 750,000.00, from Tincan Island to Ijora – N550,000.00 to N400,000.00, from Tincan Island to trade fair-N700,000.00 to N750,000.00.”
On the cost of transportation from Apapa port to within Lagos state, he said, “Apapa to Ijora: N350,000.00 to N450,000.00, Apapa to Iddo: N470,000.00 to N500,000.00, Apapa to Lagos Island: N470,000.00 to N500,000.00, Apapa to Ladipo Mushin: N600,000.00 to N650,000.00, Apapa to Ikeja : N650,000.00 to- N700,000.00 and Apapa to Alaba: N750,000.00 to N850,000.00.”
The agents also called on the federal government to address the breakdown of scanners at the port adding that it cost more to scan manually.
“The breakdown of scanners to facilitate inspection of goods, which is now done manually by human labor, is laborious, constitute delays, and necessitates high cost, destruction of goods unstuffed and security of our port for arms, ammunition and unwholesome goods due to non-availability of scanners. Scanning/ customs examination 20ft Containers-N28, 000.00, custom examination service 40ft- N4100.00,”the agents pointed out.
The group added that shipping companies are double agent, “who represent their principals here in Nigeria and still charge local shipping charges, on container for no port duty, they don’t perform any function like provision of plant, Terminal, Energy or Labor, but charge almost the same rate with terminal operators due to absent of federal government control.
“All government agencies operate independently on cost and procedure in contravention of international best practice of one-stop-shop process, which necessitates the increase in cost and delays in the release of goods.”
The customs agents added: “The external intervention from other Customs Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Strike Force etc, with the extension of activities of customs procedure, examination off-loading containers at the federal operation unit, where containers are left for days, weeks and months, consume deposit for containers and incur additional demurrage on trucks that the containers are on.
“There is another double handling, outside the port in contravention of treaties and protocol (WCO) Kyoto convention on harmonisation and simplification of Customs procedure and 40 miles radius that set up the FOU unit.”
While decrying the lack of dispute resolution mechanism in the port, they added, “The concept of efficient, consistent and predictable Port system, is based on effective dispute resolution mechanism as contained in WTO, WCO and other conventions that must be independent from customs and other government agencies, that resulted to imposition in contravention to global practice.”