One of the agents said “The drivers are avoiding the Maersk Line containers because they would not be able to return the empty container if they carry the import container, Maersk Line does not have a holding bay, they are only managing TICT terminal to accommodate their empty containers”
…Allege Corruption, Connivance with Shipping Companies
…As Truckers Avoid Maersk Line Containers
…Agents Vow to Picket Shippers Council, NPA
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Tension is currently building at the Tin Can Island Port as members of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have alleged connivance and corruption among Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigerian Shippers Council, shipping companies and terminal operators to frustrate port operations.
This is even as truck drivers are now refusing to carry containers belonging to Maersk Line shipping company, alleging that the company does not have empty container holding bay, hence returning the empty container is always problematic.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS at the weekend, Chairman of Tin Can Island Chapter of ANLCA, Prince Segun Oduntan lamented that his members are going through hell, trying to get their containers out of the port and even to return the empty containers, while they are made to pay huge demurrages.
Oduntan blamed the port economic regulator, Nigerian Shippers Council for not doing her job of putting the shipping companies in check and ensuring they have holding bays, while NPA on her part has failed to ensure that vessels return with empty containers equivalent to the cargoes they bring into the port.
In separate interviews with our correspondent yesterday, scores of ANLCA members at Tin Can Port vowed that they were ready to descend on Shippers Council and NPA in a mater of days, and even paralyze port operations in order to call attention of the federal government.
“It is the right of the terminal to receive vessels, but in a situation whereby they have accommodated some empty containers in their terminal, this has now congested the little space in their terminal, the import containers no longer have space, they now begin to stack containers”
“At Port and Cargo, it is after five days before they position your container, they would tell you the container is at stacking area”
He lamented that while the delays are ongoing, clearing agents are paying demurrages depending on the period the container stays at the terminal.
According to our findings, first period attracts N8,000, second period is N12,000, third period is N18,000. The third period is after ten days, second period is after five days.
Also speaking, an executive of the Tin Can chapter who pleaded anonymity alleged that transfer of containers by barges is no longer effective because it is being abused by one of the terminal operators; TICT Terminal.
“Transfer of barges is not effective, if you want to transfer your container by barges, it is under request, but there was a time that they said they were nominating cargoes to bonded terminals in order to extort agents and importers.
If they allocate the vessel to a bonded terminal, it is their responsibility, they cannot charge us for transfer charges”
“But instead of them to say they have allocated their vessels to bonded terminal, they now use the word “nominate”, they are now charging N150,000. We stopped it, but they are yet to refund the monies they have collected”
The grouse of the clearing agents against NPA is that, the NPA has a chart of vessels calling at Nigerian ports and the number of containers they bring in. But in most cases, NPA grants vessels sailing permit, knowing fully well that the vessel is not returning with empty containers.
“NPA supposed to give a strict directive to shipping companies to evacuate all their empty containers, how can they turn Nigeria to a dustbin, but NPA is not enforcing this because of their corruption, they are compromising with shipping companies”
“Even though truckers are refusing to carry Maersk Line containers, the terminal is still receiving Maersk Line containers, the more the truckers refuse them, the more demurrage the terminals charge. Not only at TICT, it also goes on at Port and Cargo, and Five Star”
“You spend three weeks to return an empty container belonging to Maersk Line, you would be on cue while the demurrage accrues”
“NPA should come out and show us the ship chart to know how many containers are leaving the terminals, they are the people boarding the vessels”
“Terminal operators select the empties they want to receive, Maersk is the largest and they don’t have holding bay. The Shippers Council are not doing their job, they are aware of the situation but they chose to do nothing “
Another official of ANLCA at the chapter told our correspondent that the agents are already warming up for a protest which would kick off this week.
“There would be a total shut down of the port, enough is enough, we have had enough” one of the officials said.