…urge NCS to develop a speedy process of auctioning containers after 45 days
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Worried by the persistent congestions in the nation’s ports especially the Apapa and Tin Can Ports in Lagos, the House of Representatives, Tuesday, mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the causes and find short-term, medium-term, and long-term solutions to the problem.
The House also urged the Nigeria Customs Service, NSC, to develop a speedy process of auctioning containers that are over 45 days at the Port to make the Ports more competitive with those of the neighbouring countries.
The persistent congestion is reportedly responsible for the Apapa gridlock.
The House resolution was sequel to a motion titled “Urgent Need to Proffer Solution to the Persistent Congestion at Nigeria Ports” moved by Hon. Mukhtar Ahmed at Tuesday plenary.
In his motion earlier, Ahmed noted that out of the six (6) Ports in Nigeria, the Apapa and Tin Can Ports jointly handled about 80% of the country’s total imports.
He said that other Ports have been operating far below capacity as they jointly handle only 20% of the total cargo volume.
He said “The two Lagos Ports have been bedevilled by excruciating congestions which are adversely impacting on the ease of doing business, thus leading to loss of revenues to the country;
“The House is also concerned that obsolete clearing methods, abandonment of containers by importers, lack of automation of clearing, high terminal charges, exorbitant demurrage charges, absence of call-up system, cumbersome and multiple clearing procedures, corrupt and other sharp practices have not helped the present congestions which have so far defied all solutions.
“Apapa Port, Tin Can Island Port, Onne Port and other Ports are presently harbouring nothing less than 8,000 containers which have remained uncleared, including those at Customs
Warehouses which are not auctioned”, he said.
The lawmaker also expressed worry that the statutory process of decongestion through auction sales has not helped much due to the slow pace of Nigeria’s administration of justice in condemning the seizures presented by the Nigeria Customs Service
“The above scenario has caused the diversion of cargoes from Nigeria to her coastal neighbours like the Benin Republic and Togo, thereby leading to loss of huge businesses and revenues running into hundreds of billions of dollars.
“Unless drastic action is taken to address the situation, the problem may soon become intractable”, Ahmed said.
Adopting the motion after obtaining a favourable majority vote, the House gave the Committee 3 weeks within which to conclude the assignment and report back for further legislative action.