By Godfrey Bivbere & Providence Adeyinka
Following Vanguard’s exclusive report about the container-load of suspected toxic waste abandoned at Berger Suya area of Apapa, Lagos, the shipping company that has its name written on the container, CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited, and the three Customs Commands in Lagos have distanced themselves from the abandoned waste.
This is just as the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, has commenced investigations to determine the actual content of the container.
An official of NESREA, who spoke with Vanguard, said officials of the Agency have visited the location to collect samples of the substance for tests, even as the investigation is on to determine what ship brought in the container and the importer.
Meanwhile, at press time, the controversial container with number TLLU 2813171 was still at the site where it was abandoned.
When Vanguard visited CMA CGM office in Lagos to ascertain the ship that brought the container, the port where it was discharged, who the consignee is and the clearing agent, an official of the shipping company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, was in a better position to answer any question as to how the container entered the country.
The CMA CGM official said: “That the container is CMA CGM branded does not mean we cleared it into the country.
“Go to Customs for any clarification. They collect duty and clear containers at the port; they are in charge of anything coming into the country.”
Customs commands pass buck
Similarly, the three Customs Commands in Lagos are saying that the container did not pass through their ports.
Responding to Vanguard’s inquiry, Public Relations Officer, Apapa Area 1 Command, NCS, Abubakar Usman, said: “We have checked and profiled all exited declarations from last month to date, we could not trace any consignment that matches such number.
“Perhaps you could lay your hands on the said declaration for further investigation.”
The Public Relations Officer of Tin-can Island Command, Uche Ejesieme, had earlier told Vanguard that it was not possible to ascertain the port from where the consignment was cleared by just the container number.
He noted that the ship which brought the container had to be identified.
Also, Public Relations Officer, Ports and Terminal Multi-Purpose Limited, PTML, Command of NCS, Mohammed Yakubu, in his reaction said: “The container is not from PTML.”
CMA CGM, Customs have the answers
Speaking on the development, Deputy National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Adeniyi Ajayi, disagreed with CMA CGM, noting that the shipping company should be able to say what ship brought the container and the exact port where it was discharged.
He also said that Customs was supposed to have detected the consignment at the port and raised the alarm.
He said proper investigation should be made to ascertain the importer and all those involved in the shipment.