Clearing Agents Set To Withdraw Services At Tin Can Island Port

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…Threatens To Blacklist MSC Shipping Company

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Clearing agents at Tin Can Island Port of Lagos under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have resolved to embark on a strike action any moment from now, even as they have threatened to blacklist MSC Shipping Company internationally.

Some of the complaints of the practitioners include; lack of holding bay by Shipping companies, collection of container deposits, lack of access roads to exit cargoes, congestion inside the port, extortion by security agencies among others.

At an enlarged stakeholders meeting held at the Tin Can Island chapter secretariat of ANLCA on Wednesday, scores of the operators recounted challenges of exiting their cargoes from the port, majority of which they alleged is caused by lack of holding bay by MSC Shipping and other shipping companies.

The operators had trooped down to MSC Shipping office along Creek Road in Apapa on Wednesday afternoon, protesting.

The ANLCA members condemned payment of container deposits, describing it as a major rip-off which the Nigerian Shippers Council has failed to address over time.

They argued that going forward, Shipping companies would be the one to pay truck owners, for using their trucks as holding bay for their empty containers.

Addressing newsmen after the meeting, Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can, Prince Segun Oduntan said the agents would embark on the strike action any moment from now, and that it is making final consultations before the action.

“Why we called for this meeting is to share ideas together and let people proffer solutions to these challenges so that it would not look like a dictatorship”

“There is nowhere in the world where you see people stripping containers on the port corridor, by international standards it is not done. By exiting of cargo, you cannot create another impediment”

The ANLCA chairman urged the Nigerian Shippers Council being the regulator of shipping companies to come up and address some of the challenges.

“For the past several years that we have been crying about the menace of MSC Shipping, the agencies have refused to checkmate them, the shipping companies have turned Nigeria into a dumping ground”

“What concerns the Shippers Council more is the container deposits, Nigeria is not in a war zone, we have written to the Executive Secretary for almost one year, he said they are going to do something about it”

Recall that the Shippers Council has announced that the agency is coming up with an insurance bond which importers would open with shipping companies rather than payment of container deposits.

When he was asked if the withdrawal of service is the last resort to all the challenges, Prince Oduntan said “My people’s opinion is where I go, wherever they go whatever they want is what I would do and I stand by it”

One of the agents who identified himself as Omonirewa Olasupo, popularly known as “June 12” described the freight forwarders and clearing agents as the weakest link and the most vulnerable in the port, even though they generate most of the revenue for the government.

“A ship that comes in with 1,000 containers should be able to go back with 800 empty containers, but most of the captains of the ships like to pick empties from neighbouring countries and pick exports, and they make a whole lot of money from it”

“What happens in Nigeria today is that, in collaboration with NPA, Customs officials, vessels leave our ports empty, and they go to other neighbouring countries to pick exports. They should be compelled to take empty containers so that this congestion can be reduced”

“For the last four months now, about N1.8million of my container deposit is hooked at COSCO Shipping and MSC Shipping, I feel like taking four liter petrol to their office anytime I am going there, for us to solve this problems, we have to down tool” he said.

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