by YUSUF BABALOLA
Clearing agents and Shippers operating in the nation’s seaports have urged the Federal Government to grant waiver and special concession to goods that are held up at due to difficulties in assessing the ports in Lagos – Tin-Can and Apapa.
This appeal was made by the President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero and the President Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol.
Recall that LEADERSHIP had reported on Monday that shippers lament’ as demurrage charges on goods held up at the ports hit N6.7billion in 10 days. But, Amiwero in an appeal letter to written to the acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and a copy made available to LEADERSHIP said the poor state of the road had held up cargoes at the seaports.
According to him, the port access road constitutes a stumbling block to our International Maritime traffic as it has limited trade Facilitation process. He said, “There is the urgent need for government to intervene and grant waiver on the goods that are held up in Lagos Ports, which is extremely difficult to access and exit the port.
“To access or exit out and in of the port take days ,which resulted 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.”
Amiwero who stated that the condition of the port access roads has assumed an alarming proportion because of daily occurrence of destruction of loaded goods that always falls on Cars, Trailers and Sometime on persons. The clearance of goods from Lagos ports is associated with high demurrages, rents, risk of carriage and continuous delay, which has 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. Speaking on the demurrage, Nicol said only the federal government can ask terminal operators and shipping companies not to charge demurrage.
He said, ”The waiver will come only from NPA because terminal operators are under NPA and whether to waive or not NPA will want their charges to be paid. So, if NPA should say for the period we will repair the road don’t charge demurage I don’t think they will charge.
“Terminal operators are here to do business whether the road is good or bad besides they are not the cause. So, it’s the government which is the NPA that will say our suppliers are suffering and until we repair don’t charge demurrage and we know the supply from the port is low with lot of risk. Importers place container on a road they can’t guarantee because the roads are too bad.”
“Since the traffic started, we have been paying huge demurrage because there is nothing we can do and when we complain to Terminal operators they tell us they don’t create the bad roads.”