Following recent reports of pilfering of containers inside the port by ‘wharf rats’ the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has said that some terminal operators in Nigeria lack the required standards for owning and operating a port terminal.
In recent time, general cargoes have been reportedly damaged at Apapa port, while vehicles have been vandalized at Tin Can Island port. The latest report emanated from Hanover Terminal, a bonded terminal at Tin Can Port.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS in Lagos on Tuesday, Chairman of Tin Can Island Chapter of ANLCA, Prince Segun Oduntan said the return of ‘wharf rats’ to the port is disturbing.
According to him, whenever incidences of vandalization occurs, the agent is usually at loss because the terminal operators don’t pay compensations.
Oduntan informed our correspondent that he has also been a victim of pilfering of Vehicles at Tin Can Port when his four containers of Land Cruiser Jeeps and Hilux Jeeps were vandalised.
He narrated that this almost soiled his relationship with his client.
Oduntan said the agents never get to know the level of damage to the vehicles or the cargoes until it has gotten to where the containers would be offloaded.
To this end, the ANLCA Chairman advised clearing agents to always go for examination of cargoes with a recording camera in addition to their android phones, as well as a new padlock which they would be able to identify if their containers were broken.
Speaking he said “There is a standard requirement for you to own a terminal, just as there is a standard for licensed customs agent to practice, if all the required standards have been met by the terminal operators, we would not be experiencing all these cases of pilfering”
“It has happened to me before, it happened to me some years back at Ports and Cargo Terminal, they almost soiled the relationship between me and that my client, if not for integrity sake and he knows that we have come a long way”
“You can imagine somebody importing land cruiser vehicles and Hilux of four containers, and upon getting out of the port, they got to where they would discharge and my boys called me to say that the brainbox, the side mirror and and other parts of the vehicles have been removed, I took pictures of everything”
“The problem is that we never get to know the level of damage to these vehicles until when we get to where the containers would be offloaded, this is the only area that Ports and Cargo have used against us.The vandals break the container and put another similar lock”
“What I will advise my colleagues is this; when you are coming for your cargo examination, bring your own padlock from outside , don’t buy the general padlock that they sell around the port, so that when you are taking delivery of your container, once you notice anything strange about the padlock, before it exits the terminal, you must open that container and look at the cargo”
“But what happens is that most of these agents, due to some exigencies, it is one person that goes for the examination, and when the container is being released, it is another person that goes for it. And once that container exits the terminal, the terminal operators would not be held liable”
“So, my advise to agents, which I also practice is that, if you get to my operational office, I bought a camera which everyone of my staff going for examination of cargoes have to use, apart from their phones, immediately after the close of every examination, we transfer the recording of that examination into our system. So if there is a case of pilfering on any container, there is evidence to show” he said
Oduntan however argued that terminal operators should be held liable because they are supposed to provide adequate security for cargoes kept inside their terminals.
He stressed that if the terminal owners are made to pay compensations, they would have known how to protect their terminal against pilfering and vandalization.
He lamented that the port environment and terminals are always dark at night due to poor lighting.
According to him, even though the Nigerian Ports is subscribed and operates in line with the International Ships and Ports Facility (ISPS) Code, the ports are not well illuminated.
“Part of the requirements of ISPS Code is that the port terminals should be lightened up and security in place, if you come to the port area at night, you will see the whole area dark” he said