By YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos
The federal government, importers and exporters have lost a whooping N10.8billion to strike actions embarked upon by clearing agents, truck owners and drivers over failed roads leading to the Lagos seaports – Tin-Can and Apapa.
The strike action which started on Monday entered its second day yesterday (Tuesday) and was yet to be called off by the aggrieved clearing agents and truck owners as at the time of this report.
According to LEADERSHIP investigations, the nation’s economy would lose a daily N5.4billion until the strike was called off.
According to the breakdown, it was gathered that Importers lost N668million daily to demurrage that would be paid to terminal operators and shipping companies, while the federal government would lose additional N4.7billion revenue that should be accrued to the government coffers daily.
The N4.7billion are Customs import duty, fee accrued to Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) among other government agencies.
The four major Customs commands in Lagos where revenue are generated into federal government’s coffers include, Apapa; Tin-Can; PTML and Tin-Can 2 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service.
For instance, the Apapa and Tin Can Island Customs Command generate an average of N1billion to the government coffers daily why the PTML command generate an average N281million daily.
Also, Tin-Can 2 generates an average of N136million in a day making the revenue loss huge for the federal government.
Aside revenue loss, the ports would be congested as cargoes that were supposed to be cleared out of the ports would be trapped thereby fueling inflation and scarcity of raw materials for manufacturing.
According to an industry report by leading financial audit firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte titled: “Public Private Partnership (PPP) as an Anchor for Diversifying the Nigeria Economy: A Case Study of Lagos Container Terminals Concession,” Nigerian importers and exporters now save about $800 million (N244 billion) annually, which, hitherto, was paid to shipping companies as congestion surcharge.
The Document further explained that the demurrage payment of about N244billion was saved by importers due to increased ship traffic and throughput, eradication of ship waiting time at the container terminals, reduction of vessel turnaround time from five days to 41 hours, and reduction of dwell time for cargoes from over 30 days to just 14 days.
However, in the event of a seaport strike at the Lagos Port Complex, cargoes are doomed to get trapped inside the ports, leading to congestion and delay of vessels turnaround time, and ultimately jerking up payment of demurrages by importers and exporters, it was gathered.
Also speaking, a cargo clearing expert, Bolaji Olasunkanmi, said importers, exporters and Shippers were the losers in the strike action.
“Now that clearing agents make do their threat and down tool, importers and exporters will pay huge demurrage payments.
“They (Importers and exporters) will be on the receiving end now that agents and truckers have gone on strike because their cargoes will get trapped. And if cargoes get trapped in the ports as a result of strike, other vessels waiting to discharge won’t be able to do that since there won’t be space to accommodate newer cargoes inside the ports. And once newer vessels cannot discharge, demurrages begin to mount.
“And who pays the demurrages? It is the importers and the exporters because they are the owners of the cargoes trapped inside the ports. Demurrages is not the business of agents or truckers, it is the responsibility of the cargo owners.
“If newer vessels cannot discharge the cargoes they are carrying within the normal period, then the owners of those cargoes will have to part with congestion surcharges before they will be offloaded. Congestion surcharges is the same thing as demurrages.
“And what does that mean financially, it means importers and exporters will pay N668, 493, 150 every day their cargoes remain trapped inside the port. That’s if we use the Akintola Williams report, even though I strongly believe it could be more than that.
“All this is premised on the fact that truckers and agents go on with their strike tomorrow. The port is not somewhere some people should just think of shutting down, because if that happens, port users and Nigerians will suffer,” he advised
By YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos