Outrage At Ikorodu As Customs Slam Rent Charges On Overtime Cargoes

…ANLCA Protests Against Illegal Collection

By DAPO OLAWUNI

There is palpable tension at the Ikorodu terminal otherwise known as Government Warehouse following the decision of Nigeria Customs Service to start collecting N5,000 per day as rents on overtime cargoes transferred to the terminal.

The rent collection which members of the association described as illegal, is being collected by SAPID Agencies Limited, a bonded terminal operator who is acting as technical partners to Nigeria Customs Service.

Evidences obtained by DAILY TREND NEWS exclusively showed that SAPID Agencies Limited has equally increased collection of its handling charges from N45,000 in 2017 to N541,000 in 2020.

The terminal is equally charging N123,000 for Customs examination even though the clearing agents claimed that no customs examination is done at the terminal after it is already carried out at mother port.

Already, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has kicked against the collection of rent at the terminal.

The protest letter dated 11th of June 2020 was addressed to the Zonal Cordinator of Customs in Yaba Lagos and signed by National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila.

According to a copy of the protest letter obtained exclusively by DAILY TREND NEWS, the association alleged that there are efforts by terminal operators to frustrate the transfer of overtime cargoes to Ikorodu terminal.

It says “The recent much awaited transfer of overtime cargoes recently commenced by the Nigeria Customs Service is set to be blackmailed by port terminal operators who are bent on collection of rent at Ikorodu government warehouse ”

“For avoidance of any doubt, Ikorodu terminal is Government Warehouse designate, therefore, no rent is payable in line with CEMA provision beside the payments of handling cost of delivery ”

“ANLCA wishes to register her position of resistance to this development if unchecked ” it states.

Speaking exclusively with DAILY TREND NEWS, Chairman of Ikorodu Chapter of ANLCA, Comrade Lawal Jimoh argued that SAPID Agencies Limited are not concessionares, they are service providers to the Customs service, they are just to help Customs discharge containers and load containers with their cranes, and that there is no letter for them to collect rent.

According to him, it is only NPA that has right to collect rent as the landlord, but SAPID is now contributing to problems of transfer of overtime cargoes to Ikorodu terminal.

“They are collecting 376,000 as handling charges on containers, this is too outrageous”

“N82,000 is collected as Customs examination, even though there is no examination that is performed here, they have been done at the major port.
The SAPID is not adding any value to the Ikorodu terminal, if you move round, you would find out that there is no even light at the terminal” alleged.

The ANLCA Chairman also alleged that terminal operators at Apapa port were playing politics with transfer of containers to Ikorodu terminal. He said that the Ikorodu terminal has capacity to accommodate 9,000 containers but presently, the terminal operators are reluctant to let go of all the Uncleared Cargo List (UCL) in their custody.

Going by the recent transfer made by the Customs, he said PTML Terminal brought only 162 containers, 1,300 cars, and 60 trucks.
APM Terminal according to him “brought only 700 containers and they stopped. Ports and Cargo Terminal just started its transfer but the UCL generated from there is just 200 containers, this is too small. TICT, Five Star Terminals have not started, we also have the various bonded terminals overflowing with overtime cargoes”

“We pay N250,000 for forty footer and N150,000 for twenty foot containers, cars pay N50,000 while trucks pay N80,000 to the NPA as transfer fee, so terminal operators are not losing anything” he said

Also speaking, Martins Ikechukwu, Vice Chairman of the chapter argued that SAPID do not have right to demand demurage in rent even when the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says the port should be used to empty Apapa ports

“Demurrage that government have overlooked, they are now beginning to work out out N400,000 and N500,000 rent charges on government property”

The rent they are demanding is illegal. They start charging you from the day your barge came into ther terminal, up to the time you want to take delivery, some people are now carrying bill of N360,000 for a single container being demanded by a private company, not even NPA” he said

Another clearing agent at the terminal, Innocent Akubiro alleged that there is conspiracy in the maritime sector against transfer of overtime cargoes to Ikorodu terminal.

Speaking, he said “Right now, it is not even all the containers that they are bringing now, by right, they ought to move all the containers down, but now it’s like they are selecting”

“Ikorodu can accommodate 9,000 containers if properly arranged, there is a sabotage somewhere because the vehicles that were brought here were just dumped, they ought to be properly arranged as done in mother ports, you dont just drop vehicles where containers are supposed to be, thereby blocking access to the containers”

“We have four warehouses here at Ikorodu, they have given two to Dangote, and we still have two big warehouses that can contain about 1,500 vehicles, so if they want to move more vehicles into Ikorodu, we are still expecting about 2,000 vehicles which can go into the warehouses, while the open terminals would be free to handle 9,000 containers.
Right now, the terminal is still very much under utilised”

“They are playing politics, because if you go by the UCL that has been generated by Apapa, TICT, Ports and Cargo and PTML, we have at least 14,000 containers in all the ports, so how many have the barge operators dispatched to Ikorodu?

However while speaking with our correspondent, Customs Area Controller of Ikorodu terminal, Assistant Comptroller Kidda. H. said he was not aware of the debit note issued to clearing agents by SAPID

He said that even though the rent is supposed to be collected by Customs under the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) there should be common ground before such collection can commence.

According to him, the Zonal Headquarters of Customs is aware of the issue, but the go ahead has not been issed to SAPID to collect the charges.

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