DEMURRAGES: Port Terminal Operators Frustrating President Tinubu’s Efforts On Attracting Investors Into Nigeria—–Femi Olabanji

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President Bola Tinubu (left) Mr Femi Olabanji, Chairman ANLCA Lilypond Chapter

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Even as President Bola Tinubu is globetrotting in search of investors to come into Nigeria to lift its economic dynamics, fresh indications have emerged that the cumbersome port procedures and poor service delivery at the ports might not allow the President to be successful.

Chairman of Lilypond Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Femi Olabanji on Tuesday raised fresh alarms that Terminal operators were taking three weeks before dropping containers for examination, adding that it takes not less than one month to clear a single imported container out of Apapa and Tin Can Island Port.

Recall that Olabanji was the one that blew the lid on the racketeering of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Trucks Call-Up Ticket which was being sold for N150,000 by some cabals. This report has since generated investigations by the Federal Government with ongoing measures to nip the corruption in the bud.

Olabanji has equally raised a fresh alarm, alleging that Customs officers and terminal operators demand N20,000 special bribes before attending to port documents or dropping containers for examination.

The ANLCA Chairman stated that the reason for the delay is as a result of lack of equipment by terminal operators and their lack of capacity to run the terminals efficiently.
According to him, clearing agents and freight forwarders are made to pay N60,000 demurrage daily for these incompetence of the terminal operators.

Olabanji called on President Tinubu as well as the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola to set up a committee as a matter of urgency to address the challenges associated with delay in cargo clearance.

“We are not finding it easy at the port at all. When you have a consignment and you want to go for examination, it would take you three weeks before you can get it done. Within these three weeks, the grace period is gone, you are already paying N60,000 everyday.

“After you have gotten that sorted out, you will spend another two to three weeks before the cargo can leave the port because there is no truck to get the cargo out. The Nigerian Ports Authority since November 2023 stopped trucks from going into the port” he lamented

Speaking on the obsolete handling equipment of terminal operators in Apapa Port, he alleged that whenever containers are being discharged from vessels, all terminal activities are suspended to give priority to the vessel, adding that importers are made to suffer the brunt in demurrage.

“The terminal operators needs to be investigated, their equipment is old, they don’t have equipment. If for instance, they have a vessel arriving from the high seas, before they can offload that vessel, they would have to stop all other loading activities,
and stop cargo examination.
They know they are not losing when they stop, they are going to take demurrage from the importers” he said

Femi Olabanji has however called on the President and Minister to set up an inter-agency committee that would involve the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Police, the Licensed Customs Agents and other port users to inspect the equipment of terminal operators.

“The government should please
allow us to have a committee, this committee should have the Customs, Police, custom brokers, freight forwarders. They will go and see the equipments by the terminals, have meeting with them at least once in two months or once in three months to just cite their equipments.

“What they (Terminal Operators) are saying is that the government is collecting dollars from them. If the government is going to collect dollars from them, is that the reason why they will kill the importers?

“I am begging the president, because I can see the work that President Tinubu is doing, with the effort of this president, if you are coming to invest in Nigeria, and before you bring in your goods to come and invest, you have already spent millions for demurrage

“How does it encourage you to come and invest in Nigeria?

“The President is working 24-7 to make sure that people come and invest in Nigeria. But if you are coming to invest in Nigeria, and these port charges are in place, you can never break even.

“What I am saying is that, there should be fast delivery of cargoes, you have your consignment today, you go for your examination today, the following day your container is dropped, after dropping the container, you take delivery

“But here, what we have is that, when you go for examination, it takes you almost three weeks before they drop your container. When you get your Terminal-Delivery-Order, it takes you almost three weeks before you load your container.

“Even if you book for customs examination, you have to go to their office and bribe them before they will send your documents to APMT.
And when they send to APMT, before these ones will act on that document, you still have to go and settle APMT staff. They collect between N10,000 and N20,000 per container, you must pay, that’s when they will now drop your container for examination.

“The ministers, the House of Representatives should look into these things because if you are coming to invest in Nigeria,
and the cost of moving your cargo from the port is too much, when you are bringing your goods, that is your raw materials, how do you go about it? This money is too much” he said

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