By Samson Echenim
International ships calling at the Lagos Port Complex, otherwise known as Apapa Port and Tin Can Port in Lagos have raised the alarm over severe berthing delays that take between seven days and three weeks.
In a letter issued to importers and their clearing agents, which was exclusively obtained by business a.m., one of the major multinational shipping companies from South Africa, Pacific International Line (PIL) said the ports may have reached maximum capacity.
The shipping line hinted that Nigeria’s closed borders and lack of cargo handling equipment by terminal operators may have compounded the delays. PIL calls at APM Terminals at Apapa Port and TICT at Tin Can Port.The statement suggested that both terminals do not have adequate cargo handling equipment, a claim that has remained permanent at the domain of licensed customs clearing agents, but perpetually denied by the terminal operators.
In the letter dated December 6, 2019 and entitled: “Re: Nigeria Port Delays (Lagos/Tin Can),” PIL wrote “Kindly be advised that Nigeria is currently facing severe berthing delays at Lagos Tin Can. Lagos is facing close to 3 weeks and Tin Can 5 to 6 days berthing. This is affecting all lines and please factor this into your supply chain delivery date.
“It is understood that the delays are attributed to the Port being at maximum capacity due to the country effectively closing its Borders to neighbouring countries, compounded by lack of equipment in the Terminal and a recent fire in the port confines.We regret any negative impact this may have and be assured of our best efforts to get your cargo to destination as quickly as possible.
“Please do not hesitate to contact our marketing team for any updates or assistance.”
The development confirms fears of Vicky Hastrup, chairman of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), who last week called on the Nigerian Shippers Council to engage the Nigeria Customs Service to begin a process to auction overtime cargoes at Apapa Port.
Hastrup said, “The Customs have also not auctioned overtime cargoes.This is causing congestion at the port and it does not serve the best interest of the government. The NSC should engage the Customs to find a way to auction them. Some cargoes have stayed for five years at the ports.”