By Godfrey Bivbere
Management of Sepid Agencies Ltd.,Â Â managers of IKT has distanced itself from recent reports of missing 150 containers at the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, ILT, stressing that they have done everything by the book since assuming management of the terminal.
Managing Director of Sepid, Prince Sakiru Adetona at a forum in Lagos, told journalists that his company is only a custodian of the goods there and that they do not have the power to release any consignment without the approval of officials of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and the shipping companies.
Adetona noted even when authority for auction has been given to anyone from the Customs head office in Abuja, Sepid cannot release on their own until they get clearance from the two bodies earlier mentioned above and evidence of payment of the relevant duties shown.
On the level of security at the terminal to prevent flying of containers, the Sepid boss explained that before they took over the management of the terminal, the lights at the facility were not functioning.
He also disclosed that access to the terminal was very porous but further noted that all that has since changed.
When asked if the terminal was operating at its full capacity, he pointed out that IKT has about 5,000 TEU, Twenty Equivalent Unit holding space but stressed that they do not use up to half of the holding capacity.
On the number of containers at the terminal as at the time the facility was handed over, Adetona pointed out that a total of 1,222 twenty_foot containers and 882 forty_foot containers were on ground at the time they took over the terminal in February 2008.
He further stated that at the height of the congestion at the Lagos ports, 1,167 twenty-foot containers and 640 forty-foot containers were transported to the terminal while a total of 1,185 containers have been cleared out of IKT to date. Of the 1,185 containers, he noted that 731 are 20 footers while the remaining 454 are 40 footers.
He also disclosed that his company has invested about N500 million in it Bonded Terminal to date. According to him, â€œI will say we have invested nothing less then N500 million.â€
Adetona explained that the greatest challenge facing any Bonded Terminal operator is the maintenance of their cargo handling equipment which he described as very expensive.
He said while most of the parts had to be shipped in from overseas, they cost between N2- N3 million.
It would be recalled that some importers and their agents recently complained about illegal auctioning and outright disappearance of the consignments from the terminal.
They had complained there that some senior Customs officers in Abuja were giving allocation papers to their proxies and top government officials, even when the owners of such consignments may have paid the relevant duty for the goods.