Despite the directive by the secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who also heads the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19 to all service providers at the seaports, including banks to operate at full scale, port operation and activities at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa and the Tincan Port in Lagos have remained at skeletal level.
This has fueled fears of possible congestion at the seaports after COVID-19.
Nicholas Momah, CEO Denrick Logistics, confirmed to Business a.m that while port activities are moving on, only a few banks are opening their offices at the ports, making it difficult or impossible for customs agents to pay tariffs for imported cargoes.
“The ports are working, the terminals are open, but only a few banks at the ports are working. The problem with this is that we are not able to pay for Customs charges,” he said.
“The ports in Lagos are not working adequately, so, I am not certain that goods are edequately being released from the ports, compared to when the pandemic was not there,” said Frank Ogunjemite, president, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (AFPPLON).
Also giving his response to business a.m inquiries, Edeme Kelikume, president of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) said the skeletal operation at the ports was also affecting barge operators, who in turn are operating at skeletal level.
Terminal operators had on March 30, raise the alarm over imminent congestion at the seaports in Lagos.
The port operators said massive congestion was looming at the ports in Lagos because consignees and their agents were not taking delivery of their cargos.
The seaport concenssionaires, said their facilities are 90 to 95 percent full, raising fears of congestion at the ports.
The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), said that while it was good that the seaports would be working to support government’s effort at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there was need to allow full movement of cargo across the country, to ensure their operations were not hampered.
“All terminals in Lagos are between 90 and 95 percent full. Most of the cargo is non-essential. If cargo doesn’t flow, within days, there will be no space in the terminals to discharge other cargo. And some of the cargo awaiting to be discharged include food and medicine. There is a need, therefore, to appeal to importers to pick up their cargo and not return empties for next two weeks in order to allow the prioritization of imports coming in.
“If consignees do not remove their cargo in the next couple of days, the ports will become fully congested and it will be near impossible to discharge incoming vessels,” said Bolaji Akinola, STOAN spokesman.
Akinola said that the multiplicity of government agencies at the ports and at the ports’ exit gates at both Tin Can ad Apapa ports is compounding the “painfully slow delivery of cargo”.
“These government agencies are working at odds with the Federal Government’s policy on the Ease of Doing Business. There are too many government agencies involved in the cargo release process, and after the cargo is released in the terminal, these government agencies including the Nigeria Customs Service conduct another round of checks at the port gate.
“The situation has resulted in long truck queues inside the ports because the rate at which trucks exit the main port gate has is extremely slow due to these multiple checks,” he said.
Frontpage December 19, 2019