By Godwin Oritse
THE continued pilfering of goods,particularly consumables from vessels that call at the nationâ€™s seaport, has become a source of worry to both ship owners and importers as vessels now charge more to sail to Nigeria.
In an interview with Vanguard, the Managing Director, Ocean Glory Shipping Agency, Mr. Peter Cole, said the level of pilferage has gotten to an alarming rate as most shipowners do not want their vessels to come to Nigeria any more.
Cole said that any vessel that agrees to come to Apapa port or any Nigerian port, usually charges more than the nornal freight rate because, more often than not, the vessel owner is made to pay for whatever short fall that is recorded after off-loading.
The ship agent disclosed that there was an instance a ship short-landed by seven trucks and the shipowner had to pay for the stolen trucks.
The shipping expert also said that the issue of pilferage has not abated in any way, adding that it is only in Nigeria that such short landing usually occurs.
He gave an instance when a vessel he handled recorded a short fall of almost 180 bags of rice, the same vessel went to Cotonou and had an excess of 250 afterÂ discharging its cargo.
â€œWe do about 60 trucks a day and on each truck, we lose about four bags of rice. So you can see that the issue has reached a point where government’s intervention, else time is coming when vessels may have to stop coming to our ports.
â€œGovernment needs to organise the dock labour better than it is currently doing, there is a need to re-orientate the dock workers in the port on the damage such pilferage does to the image of the Nigerian ports and the nation.
â€œYou find that vessels that come in with rice and fish charge very high freight rate because of the pilfering and most shipowners are sceptical to come to Nigeria because their vessels stand the risk of being arrested as a result of whatever that may occur.
â€œMost shipowners from Greece and Singapore do not like coming to Nigeria because of this issue of pilferage.”
The shipping consultant suggested that new ports should be opened to reduce the issue of congestion, adding that the ports in Nigeria are becoming too small for the volume of throughput currently being experienced.