By DAPO OLAWUNI
Controversies are trailing the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over allegations of monopoly and favouritism of allowing a bonded terminal operator, Hanover Bonded Terminal carryout stripping of containers at the Tin Can Island Port at night.
Even though container stripping is not an illegal activity in shipping operations, the NPA had in December 2020 suspended all stripping of containers along the port corridors due to port congestion and to give room for the ongoing road construction around the port.
However, freight forwarders operating at the port have raised an alarm and alleged that Hanover Terminal, one of the bonded terminals that was engaging in stripping before the NPA clampdown have now resumed again.
The terminal allegedly collects N250,000 to allow trucks strip at night.
DAILY TREND NEWS reports that a bonded terminal is licensed by the Nigeria Customs Service and the NPA to receive containers with a seal, and to be officially released inside the terminal by customs officials.
However, when our correspondent conducted an investigation around the port last week, several trucks loaded with containers were seen queuing up and waiting to enter into the terminal even though their seal have been broken.
One of the stakeholders who spoke under anonymity alleged that recently, the NPA had opened the previously shutdown strip yards, but they were subsequently shutdown abruptly after operating for a while.
“Recently, they opened the stripping yards again including Ennyman Canteen, Black Gate, and First Bank.
All of them were charging N150,000 to offload cargoes which was okay for us”
“They did not operate for one month, the next thing we saw was that they have been locked up again, but allowing Hanover Terminal to carryout stripping”
“Meanwhile, Hanover Terminal is not a stripping yard, it is a bonded terminal that is supposed to receive a container with seal from the feeder port, to be escorted by Federal Operations Unit of customs”
“But we found out that Hanover Terminal was receiving containers released by other TICT Terminal PTML Terminal, Ports and Cargo and 5star Terminal, they were bringing these containers with keys to be offloaded in their terminal, they are still doing it as we speak, they collect N225,000 to do stripping”
“When they want to do the stripping, they start at night, and if the containers are much that they could not finish it, they would stop by 5am, to be continued the next day”
“When we saw this, we went to confront the PSO, Mr Albert Onyeka to find out who gave that monopoly to Hanover Terminal because it is a bonded terminal that supposed to receive containers with a seal, so why are they receiving containers with padlocks, this is against the rules and regulations of a bonded terminal”
“We thought that after discussing with him, the practice would stop, but it is still continuing” he said
The stakeholders argued that if NPA is stopping strip yards from operating, it must also stop Hanover Terminal from carrying out stripping of containers.
“We have met the PSO severally but he refused to listen to us.
“The monopoly and favouritism may return the Tin Can Island Port back to the traffic gridlock of the access roads to First Gate, second gate and PTML Terminal” the operators warn.
While reacting to these allegations in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS, the NPA Tin Can Port Manager, Eng Ibrahim Yunusa Anji debunked the allegations, saying that NPA have not lifted suspension on stripping of containers.
“There is nothing like stripping of containers at Tin Can Island Port, we have locked up everywhere, the MD have not asked us to open any of them
“Hanover Terminal is not stripping, they have a license for tranzire containers, you people should go and read about tranzire, if you don’t know about it is and you think it is stripping, it means they have the authority to bring containers while the customs examine it for them”
“There is nothing like that going on, the MD of NPA has sent people severally to go underground, Hanover Terminal is doing official work, you people should leave them alone”
“We have warned them that if they go against our instructions , we would charge them and they would never escape it, we are on watch
“We have asked the other yards to go and get a bonded status like Hanover Terminal, but then they won’t, they just want us to open up their terminals to start stripping, but the MD have told me, and I said I cannot guarantee any of them, because if they start stripping, I don’t know we can control them, this is why we are still having our access roads very free, apart from the express ” Eng Anji stated.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the Port Security Officer (PSO) of Tin Can Island Port, Mr Albert Onyeka said he was not aware of the allegations or that night stripping of containers was going on.
“I know that Hanover Terminal is a private entity, and as a private entity, NPA cannot control whatever they charge people using their facilities, and they are also a bonded terminal
“I don’t even know if Hanover Terminal is doing all these things that were alleged” he said