No fewer than 2000 overtime cargoes worth N20billion have been abandoned by importers at the Lagos seaports, LEADERSHIP finding has revealed.
Some of the reasons for the unclaimed containers at the ports, according to sources, include lack of money to complete their clearing process and other business considerations.
A senior manager in one of the container terminals in Lagos told LEADERSHIP that it has been difficult for the terminal operators to ascertain the consignees as the importers, in some cases, could be different from the real owner of the goods.
However, he said the 2000 abandoned containers are different from the 655 containers with power equipment belonging to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which are being evacuated from the ports after 15 years. He also said that although the TCN has claimed its containers stuck at the ports, terminal operators are losing a fortune to the space the containers currently occupy in their various terminals.
He said: ‘‘For the past 18 months, container terminals have been waiving storage charges for TCN while waiting for the company to move their remaining containers out of the ports. We have a couple of containers that have been there for so long. The TCN containers were supposed to have been taken to Ikorodu lighter terminal for auction.’’
He said the TCN, while looking for ways to clear the equipment from the ports, met the comptroller-general of Customs, Hameed Ali for assistance. But he insisted that they must talk to terminal operators. Also, they asked the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman for assistance, but she also directed them to the terminal operators.
‘‘That was how we agreed on a waiver. If government had agreed to auction the equipment, the terminal operators wouldn’t have been able to make any money from the evacuation of TCN containers. We decided to give waiver which was a way of ensuring that we get something rather than getting nothing.’’
Meanwhile, the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has said the TCN has identified all its containers to be evacuated from ports and those with power equipment have been evacuated from the ports.
In a statement exclusively obtained by LEADERSHIP, the spokesman of STOAN, Bolaji Akinola said the TCN has identified all containers stranded at the ports and taken delivery. “With specific regards to the power equipment, the federal government has identified all the containers containing power equipment and taken delivery at the various terminals across the country. We are happy to have been part of the process of identifying and releasing these containers.”
Akinola further stated that the evacuation of the containers freed up vital spaces for business. “The delivery of the containers has also freed up vital spaces in the various terminals. Don’t forget that some of these boxes have been at the ports for more than 12 years. I cannot tell if there are other containers laden with other types of goods but the ones containing power equipment have been delivered,’’ he said,
Akinola also disclosed that the terminal operators have waived N1.5bn on the abandoned containers with power equipment.
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