By Ifeyinwa Obi
Bonded terminalsÂ operators in the country have blamed terminal operators, popularly called â€œconcessionairesâ€ for non patronage of their off-dock warehouses.
The bonded warehouse owners are also hinging their problems to the lacuna in the 2009 Bill on bonded warehouses and off-dock terminal operations.
The bonded terminal owners under the aegis of Association of Bonded Terminal Operators represented by their lawyer, Mike Igbokwe (SAN) at a public hearing on the proposed port and harbour Act under consideration by the joint committee of House of Representative committee on marine transport and justice specifically fingered one of the operators of the largest container terminal in the country for their predicament. They therefore asked that they be recognized by the new port law compelling the concessionaires to patronize them.
â€œIt is incontestable that since March, 2006, many of the port concessionaires or private port terminal operators that won the bids organized by the Bureau for Public Enterprises for the lease and management of the NPA ports took charge of the operations of the ports and their cargo handling equipment under leases granted them by the NPA.
Rather than one of them called APM Terminals Apapa Limited (winner of Apapa container terminal and Lilypond Terminal) which our Association met and extended our hands of fellowship to so as to seek ways to complement and collaborate, reciprocating our gesture, it has in collaboration with its sister companies established a monopoly of the entire transport logistic chain from shipping to terminal operation and from haulage to clearing and forwardingâ€, said the letter signed by its chairman, Mr. Mike Ayinde, who spoke through the Associationâ€™s lawyer..
Blaming their situation to the inadequate provisions in existing port laws, the Association chairman said:
The idea of using the bill to achieve an institutional framework to establish a port and habour authority, provide public private partnership port operations, provide effective technical regulation of the ports are laudable. However, we are of the humble view that in trying to achieve such purposes, bonded warehouses\off-dock terminal operators should not be killed since they have been recognized to be conferring significant benefits on and providing services to, our nation and its economy and are established and licensed pursuant to customs and Excise Management Act, LFN 2004, an existing law under the Constitution.