The Nigeria Customs Service has said that it is embarking on evacuation of all overtime containers from Nigerian ports today, starting with a vehicle terminal at the Tin Can Island Port; PTML Terminal.
Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Alli (rtd) disclosed last week that customs has received the Uncleared Cargo List (UCL) from PTML, even as she said that it is also receiving the UCL from other ports.
The Customs boss however warned that henceforth, Customs would now force shipping companies to pay for any delay caused by them, especially as container laden trucks are queueing up along ports access roads without a place to drop empty containers.
Represented by Assistant Comptroller General of Customs Zone ‘A’, Kaycee Ekekezie, Alli assured that the Customs is taking it upon itself now to ensure that every ship that calls at Nigerian Ports departs with their empty containers, so as to decongest the port.
He said the overtime cargoes would be moved to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal as the ports no longer had the traditional government warehouses for such cargoes.
He said “From Monday (today) all overtime cargoes will be cleared from PTML, they have already submitted their uncleared cargo list (UCL)
“We are going to start forcing shipping companies to pay for delaying in receiving their empty containers, some of them deliberately abandon their containers inside the port, their vessels are supposed to leave the port with equivalent of containers they brought”
Responding to questions on how to address the issue of empty containers, the CGC faulted the shipping companies for failing one a vital responsibility.
He said: “Why do we have congestion at the port? One is because the shipping companies no longer do what they should. We will address that.
“For example, a shipper brings in 200 containers and he comes to drop them at a terminal, instead of carrying the same number of empty containers he would start doing posting. That is why we kept having a build-up of empty containers.
“If the shipping companies don’t want to carry their empties we will make them to start paying for them.”
He said that trade traditions made room for government warehouses in the ports because “it is possible that all containers in a particular voyage will not go immediately.”
Acknowledging improvement in trade compliance, the CGC disclosed that the customs nets a daily revenue of over N5 billion, and noted that “therefore, with due compliance to import and export regulations, processes and procedures, proper documentation and correct description of items imported and exported for customs purposes, we will achieve higher results.”