By Godwin Oritse
A group under the aegis of the National Council of Managing Directors Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has raised alarm over an impending port congestion that might hit the nation if urgent steps are not taken to avert it.
In a letter to the Presidency, the President of the group Mr. Lucky Amiwero said that there is terrible build up of uncleared containers at Lagos Ports that might become a treat to the Economy.
The situation according to Amiwero has assumed an alarming proportion, adding that if not urgently checked, it will create serious economic imbalance and devastating effect to our Port system.
Amiwero explained that the refusal of some shipping firm to transfer their containers to off dock facilities and the absence of government to the stemming of vessels bonded warehouses are some of the causes of the congestion that is currently gathering momentum.
He also blamed the situation on inefficient and unethical attitudes of some terminal operators adding that most have no respect for the concession agreement they went into with government.
He said “ The Present congestion being experienced in Lagos was the refusal of shipping companies to transfer the containers owned by their Lines to off Dock facilities.
“The refusal has created build up in the Lagos Ports, which is presently associated with delay in the positions of containers for scanning, physical Examination and delivery, which sometimes take weeks, with the inefficiency and cost still borne by the Importer/Licensed Customs Agents.
“The contact of carriage by Sea, limit the action of the Shipping Companies, as such Containers are under lease to the Importer who can use such Container on “THROUGH” Bill of Lading contract while the Terminal Operators who are the receivers of the Cargo from the Line to their facilities are the one responsible with the consent of the importer based on the Clause in the Bill of Lading to any agreed off dock terminal within reach at no cost to the importer.
Explaining further, Amiwero stated “The major cause of unethical practice and increase of port cost is the Total Control of the allocation/steaming of Ship by Concessioners, which allows them to keep Containers at the detriment of the Economy and refuse to allocate Containers to off dock Terminal that are laying fallow.
The activities, which has resulted in delay and high cost to the Importer/Licensed Customs Agents for their deficiency of the terminal operators due to non-intervention by any Government Agencies for control of such unethical practice.
The Critical Control of any Port system is the intervention by Government as safety measures for the effective control, management of the Ships, Cargo distribution and the control of Tariff so as to reduce bottlenecks, international surcharge, congestion fees and the reduction of high cost of clearance
He called for an economic regulator that will take care of the deficient and unethical practices in the Port.