By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the closure of the Clarion Bonded Terminal located at Kirikiri Terminal in Apapa by the Nigeria Customs Service, importers and clearing agents are now being made to incure huge demurrage on their consignments.
DAILY TREND NEWS investigations revealed that there was battle between KLT Customs and the Apapa Customs over the administration of the bonded terminal.
Ordinarily, sources say that Clarion bonded terminal which only commenced operations in May 2020, took its bond and operations license under the Apapa Customs command where cargoes are captured and duties paid.
However, the terminal was located inside KLT Terminal, while operating a single gate with KLT Phase 2 and 3.
The KLT Customs was said to have initially shut down the terminal because it was restricting officers of the command staying accessing the terminal.
Another bone of contention was the revenue drive and the craze to meet up revenue targets, our correspondent learnt that both terminals were trying to outshine one another to be the lead revenue collector.
Already, the supremacy battle between both commands have reportedly led to the Zonal Cordinator Zone A shutting down the Clarion terminal.
Speaking on the effect of the closure on Nigerian economy, Chairman of KLT Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr Godwin Sewa Soleji told our correspondent that demurrage charges are already counting on the cargoes stranded inside the terminal
“This closure is having a negative effect on the Nigerian economy, as it is now, importers are worried, the clearing agents are worried, storage charges is counting, and at the end of the day who pays?
“The concessionares are very stubborn, even the directive of the Federal Government that they should wave storage for us during the COVID-19 lockdown, they never implemented it. This one is going to be another serious battle between agents and them”
“If they decided not wave the demurrage, goods that suppose to sell in the market for N1.00 would now be sold for N1,20k.
There is already congestion in Apapa, and this was why a complete vessel was stemmed to the offdock terminal in order to decongest Apapa port” he said
Soleji said the space occupied by Clarion terminal was formerly used for stacking of empty containers, but later it was converted into handling imported cargoes
He described the crisis as “Customs internal problem because, cargoes at the terminal are being captured at Apapa Customs Command, but the terminal is domiciled within KLT domain, and it is a single gate that leads out of the KLT, so the revenue, though is going to the federal purse, but they are all trying to outshine one another to be the lead revenue collector”
On the closure, he said “They told us it is an Abuja instruction, right now they have not called us as critical stakeholders for any meeting”
Also speaking, Chairman of Apapa Chapter of ANLCA, Mr Dom Onyeka said the closure of the Clarion Terminal is affecting clearing agents adversely because haulage trucks have been stranded at the terminal since Thursday last week when it was shut and they are still held up there.
“This is causing demurrage on the trucks and the goods, the closure is frustrating operations in that place, so since that time, works are not being done”
“The latest report we heard now is that they are going to charge the clearing agents another money to move the cargoes by barge to their Clarion Terminal at Satellite Town.
Some of the containers were taken to this new terminal, not based on importers request, they did it to ease port congestion, and they are now using it to affect us” he said
When she was contacted by DAILY TREND NEWS, spokesperson for the Customs Zonal Headquarters Zone A in Lagos, Ngozi Okwara was not to forthcoming with information.
She said “The Zonal Office did not shutdown the terminal, the operators should specify which Customs, you need to get clear confirmation of who shut the terminal”
“Whatever it is with Clarion bonded terminal, it is being sorted out and it would be done soonest, whatever happens, you will hear about it”