By DAPO OLAWUNI
For failing to equip its terminal with necessary handling equipment, the Nigerian Shippers Council has threatened to shut down Hanover Bonded Terminal located at National Bus Stop, Tin Can Island Port.
Scores of clearing agents, led by the former Public Relations Officer of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Tin Can Island Chapter, Mr Emmanuel Onyeme protested at the terminal yesterday over the alleged inefficiency of the terminal and constant breakdown of its container handling machines.
Other challenges enumerated at the terminal includes lack of paved floors within the terminal, a situation that makes it waterlogged and unaccessible whenever their is a downpour.
The clearing agents lamented that they have been stranded at the terminal for five days, since last week Friday and they could not pick their containers due to the faulty machines by Hanover Terminal.
The already tensed agents alleged that management of the terminal was also asking them to pay demurrage for the five days, despite the fact that the fault is from the terminal operator.
Apart from the demurrage at Hanova terminal, the delay has equally led to shipping companies and terminal charges on their cargoes waiting inside the terminals, waiting to come into the bonded terminal.
Director of Consumer Services at the Nigerian Shippers Council, Chief Carjetan Agu who visited the terminal to address the protesting agents said that the council would stop further stemming of containers to Hanover until the floors of the terminal have been properly paved
He said, failure to do this, the Shippers Council would shut down the terminal.
While inspecting the dilapidated nature of the terminal, Mr Agu said it would be difficult to offload containers inside the terminal whenever it rains.
Speaking on the collection of demurrage as a result of breakdown of container handing equipment, he said:
“We are aware of the problems they have here at this terminal, so we have taken a decision that from Saturday till today (Thursday) they are going to waive the demurrage because the delay is on their own part”
“My plea is that you should be patient and submit your documents for update in order to enable you pay the right charges”
“If they fail to comply, you can call me, we have discussed with them, we are equally going to do a letter to ensure that they abide by that discussion and waive demurrages from Saturday till Thursday” he said
Agu was accompanied on the inspection by the Vice President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto.
Addressing journalists earlier, the former Tin Can Chapter spokesman of ANLCA, Emmanuel Onyeme lamented that the container handling has stopped working since last Friday.
He said that apart from the N5,000 Hanover Terminal is demanding as demurrage per day, clearing agents are also being charged N12,000 per day, due to the inefficiency of Hanover Terminal that is clearly not the fault of the agents.
“By Monday, most of the agents that have collected their Terminal Delivery Order could not go out of the terminal”
“We thought that the management would use Saturday and Sunday to fix the faulty machine, but we discovered that nothing was done on it. As at Wednesday, the machine worked, picked some few containers and started overheating, we told them we cannot accept this”
“We expected the terminal to go to neighboring terminal and hire another kama, but the MD of Hanover, Mr Steve, he doesn’t care, all his concerns is to collect his tranzire money and go”
“Under normal bonded terminal management, they are supposed to have good handling machines, also looking at the terminal, it doesn’t meet up the requirements of a bonded terminal, it doesn’t also meet up with ISPS Code, the terminal is very rough, containers are not well stacked, this also leaves room for wharf rats to come into the terminal and vandalise peoples containers”
“We pay N5,000 per day as demurrage, also at the shipping companies, demurrage is accumulating, even if at the end of the day, Hanover decided to waive their own demurrage, they have accumulated demurrage for us at the shipping companies, our concern is that they don’t have equipment”
“The shipping company charges vary from first to third period, we pay N9,500 to TICT per day for the second period, third period is N12,000 per day, this is the amount that we are paying”
“This terminal does not meet up with the ISPS Code and NIMASA is here sharing the same building with them, they are seeing what people are going through here, I expected them to pass information to the necessary department, especially the enforcement department”
Also speaking, one of the agents, Mr Christian Ukamaka from Divine Success Agency lamented that due to the delays being experienced at the terminal, truck drivers have hiked their fares, while some have refused to accept jobs inside Hanover Terminal.
He said “I have been here since last week, last Friday, i have perfected everything, only for me to just pick up my container but I cannot load it, the truck I brought collected N130,000 and up till now I have not loaded my containerYet the terminal operators are asking us to pay demurrage for an issue that is clearly their fault”
“Any truck you meet now to come and pick your container would be charging you N300,000 for job that they normally collect N50,000, the movement is within the port, from Hanover, they take the empty container to Port and Cargo”
Meanwhile, the terminal manager of Hanover Bonded Terminal, Mr Ken Amos who spoke with journalists admitted that the only container handling machine inside the terminal broke down for four days.
He however said that management of the terminal would only wave demurrage for two days for the agents.
“We have a faulty plant and we are making serious effort to ensure we fix it, the engineers are here working on it, they worked throughout the weekend but later discovered that it was overheating, my MD asked me to go and rent another kama which I have done”
“My boss decided to wave two days for those affected, this is because it is not the kama that caused some of their issues, it is because they could not get trucks to load containers”
“The order to wave two days demurrage is from the MD and I cannot go contrary to what instruction he has given” he said.