Following earlier threat by the port economic regulator, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to shutdown bonded terminals over illegal charges, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has accused some of the operators scattered around the Tin Can Island Port in Lagos of carrying out activities, which are not licensed.
The NPA also warned that those who continue on that path would be shut down.
While the shippers’ council threat of shutdown was predicated on complaints by customs agents, the NPA’s action which commenced this week was as a result of alleged stripping of containers that have exited the port.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, the NPA’s Tin Can Island Port Traffic Manager, Mr. Peter Abiri, said many of the terminals were being used for illegal activities.
The NPA action, he stated, was in response to cries by licensed Customs agents at the port, that the activities of the bonded terminals was the major cause of the traffic gridlock along the Tin Can Port corridor, especially as all the terminals now share a single access.
Abiri said suspending the discharge of containers also known as “stripping” operations at the terminals would help clear the access roads of articulated trucks hindering free flow of traffic.
He maintained that enforcement of the exercise began from Wednesday.
Abiri stated that resumption of stripping activities would only be reconsidered after the port access road has been cleared of all impediments.
He stressed that any violation of the directive by the operators would result in the closure of the terminals, adding that the terminals were not originally licensed to do stripping but to operate as bonded terminals.
According to Abiri, “Some of the bonded terminals that engage in stripping include; M.A.N Yard and Hannover Terminal, Dash Gold (Black gate), SocaTalmis and Wali Galibut at Abuja area of Tincan port.”
The NSC recently warned all bonded terminals in the country to desist from charging shippers and freight forwarders illegal fees and improve on efficient delivery and management of cargo or face total shutdown.
The Executive Secretary /CEO of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated this during an on-the-spot assessment of Denca Terminal and Kachicares Bonded Terminal, both located within Amuwo-Odofin Lagos.
Specifically, the NSC boss threatened to shut down Denca Bonded Terminal if it fails to return about N40 million illegal charges obtained under the guise of transfer and storage charges from Nigerian shippers and freight forwarders.
Bello condemned the indiscriminate citing of bonded terminals and issuing of approvals by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), stressing that henceforth, the NSC would engage customs to ensure that it is consulted before bonded terminals are licensed.
The NSC, he stated, had in July issued a circular, directing all seaport terminals and bonded terminals to stop charging shippers for transfer of cargoes from Apapa to bonded terminals.
He said some of the bonded terminals were recalcitrant and were still collecting the money.
“Presently, Denca Bonded Terminal has N42 million to refund to importers while Kachicares Terminal owes N3 million. Our circular which we issued in July 2020 would suffice for this exercise, there should be no transfer charges, if goods are stemmed from the seaport terminals, those who stemmed the goods are responsible for whatever cost, not the shipper, so between the seaport terminals and the bonded terminals, there must be an SOP or a memorandum of understanding, I think what has been happening so far is informal arrangements, we cannot afford to operate on informal arrangements,” he said.
“The shipper cannot pay for what is not his responsibility, he has already nominated in the bill of laden where his consignments should be taken to, and transferring it to another terminal is the business of the terminal he nominated.
“NSC believes in consultation, but if we found out that for whatever reason, the seaport terminals or the bonded terminal is charging the bills we have abolished, then we would be left with no option that to ensure that we seal off premises of such recalcitrant operators who have defied genuine orders from the council.”