The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has lamented activities of security agents and touts operating around Port Harcourt Port, saying that port users are being extorted and discouraged from making use of the port.
Speaking with our correspondent last week, President of SALS, Rev Jonathan Nicole lamented that to transport goods from Port Harcourt to the markets in East, there are several security checks on the roads.
In his words, he said “There are many things involved in the Eastern Ports, first of all you have to look at the security situation, the only place that I think is fairly manageable is Onne Port, but then it is very expensive to clear goods”
“Port Harcourt port is not too bad, but cost of bringing in goods from port Harcourt is also high, to truck the goods from Port Harcourt to Aba where we have the market, there are several security checks on the road and it is hopelessly bad”
“So, it is easier to bring goods from Lagos to Aba or to Onitsha than from Port Harcourt to Onitsha and to Aba. Before you leave Port Harcourt, first of all the local government people will harass you and you can’t do without parting with money, some of them really go violent, they claim to own the Federal road, to avoid all these drama, you would prefer to send your goods Lagos because of the cost of clearing, though the transportation is high, but you would have peace of mind than in Port Harcourt”
“Much as we canvass that Eastern cargoes should go to Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar ports, federal has a lot to do by removing the bottlenecks on the highway, because its like they just opened the whole place up for security agents to liter the whole road, some of them are illegal” he said
While giving reasons why the traffic gridlock in Apapa Port may never totally be removed, Nicole argued that apart from the insecurity in the east, importers feel that as soon as they clear their goods from Lagos, they have the market at Mile 2, Balogun, Trade Fair, Alabama market and so on.
He said that the 10% that NPA is giving as rebate at the eastern ports is peanut, compared to what Shippers face with Nigeria Customs Service.
“The 10% would be swallowed up by Customs alone. If 10% is given as rebate on cost of shipping and terminal operator, then it does not make any difference”
“The Federal Government should tackle all these challenges, and in addition they should reduce the Customs duties, they have a lot to do, it is when they have more cargo that they would have more money, they have to male sure the security is okay, they have to remove the checkpoints both authorised and unauthorised” he said