Godfrey Bivbere

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) constituted to tackle problems affecting smooth clearance of goods at the nation’s seaport was bombarded with problems slowing down operations at Tin-can Island port, last week when members visited the port.

Some of the complaints made to the task force are abandonment of cargo by their owners, bad access road, under-utilization of the scanning machines and insincerity on the part of importers and their agents.

Members of the task force which was led by its Chairperson, Mrs. Ezenwa, Director of maritime Services in the Ministry of Transport, were told at the Five Star Logistics Terminal, that the management was facing a lot of challenges particularly  used vehicles that are not cleared on time by their owners, bad state of port access road to Tin-Can Port and shallow nature of the channel which hinders vessels gaining easy access into the terminal.

Mr. P.L.Carrodano, Managing Director, Five Star Terminal, said the dwelling time of containers and used vehicle at his facility is three weeks while general cargo stays between three and four weeks. The Five Star Terminal boss further noted that they have not increased their charges and maintained that all their charges were defendable.

At Cotecna scanning site, Mr. Tasir said all the scanning machines were underutilized because only a pocket size of less than 40 containers are daily released by the customs for scanning, as most of the containers are routed through physical examination. “Whatever customs send to us is what we scan. Since morning we have not scanned up to10 containers,” he said.
At Tin-can Island Customs Command, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Austin Warikoru, told the task force, who demanded for pre-scanning of containers to save time, that the major cause of problems in the port was lack of sincerity on the part of importers and their agents who often do not declare exactly what they are shipping into the country.

He noted that if importers were truthful in their declaration, clearance of goods from the nation’s ports would not be entangled by problems and promised to work with the task force to ensure that it achieves its mission.

He noted that the command was working on pre-scanning of containers as he explained that they already have a directive from the Comptroller General, assuring that all the necessary steps would be put in place by the command to commence pre-scanning as soon as possible.

He added that it is the responsibility of terminals to collate overtime cargo and take them to government warehouse and not the responsibility of the customs.

He further stressed that multiple checks was dying gradually and would be eliminated completely.
Head of the task force had earlier said the visitation was to know if the concessionaires were complying with the directive by the minister and it is not a witch-hunting exercise.

She maintained that the ministry was more particular about making the ports efficient by partnering with the concessionaires to better the living conditions of Nigerians who are the end users of the imported goods.
According to Ezenwa, the concessionaires must abide by the directive and stop collecting charges not approved by the government.


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