Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, has said that overtime cargoes are taking up commercial spaces in the port and called the Government to intervene in the matter.
The Chairperson of STOAN, Princess Vicky Hastrrup, said that if the issue of overtime cargoes were not tackled as soon as possible, terminal operators will be running their businesses at a loss.
She said that because there are so many laden containers in the terminals, the space to take empty containers is limited, explaining that terminal operators make more money when they have more space to do container operations. She stated: “Let the Nigeria Customs Service come and auction these overtime cargoes because they occupy commercial spaces in our terminals. If that is taken care of, they can dedicate a large space for empty containers.
“Right now, because they have so many laden containers, there is a limit to the number of empty containers they can take. “Not accepting empty containers into the terminals is not willfully done by terminal operators, no responsible terminal operator will want to refuse empty container. “If we can turn our spaces around as often as possible, we will make more money
She continued “It does not augur well for anybody to keep container out there; you actually make more money when you handle more ships and more containers overtime.”
Hastrrup also attributed the present congestion at the ports to the absence of scanner adding that all Customs want to do is 100 percent examination of cargoes. “Where is 100 percent physical examination of cargo done in the world”, she queered. She explained that physical examination of cargo is a very slow process and the importers incur more cost due to the delay in the processes and procedures of cargo clearance.
Similarly, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, said there is need for the overtime cargoes in the ports to be quickly auctioned so as to create more spaces at the terminals. Usman disclosed that the terminals are filled with this category of cargoes adding that it has become a challenge for both the terminal operators and importers. She explained that there is a provision for on the spot auction of cargoes adding that this has also been brought to the notice of the management of the Nigeria Customs Service.
She however called on the Minister of Transportation to intervene in the matter. She said: “The terminals are filled with overtime cargoes and therefore the acceptance of empty containers has become a challenge for terminal operators. “The absence of scanner has led to 100 percent examination of cargoes, a development that also led to port congestion.”
Speaking in similar vein, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on the Restoration of Order on the port access roads, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, disclosed that terminal operators are refusing to take empty containers into their terminals because ports are congested adding that their refusal has not stopped shipping companies from charging demurrage. ‘While terminals are refusing to collect empty containers, shipping companies are collecting demurrages on these empty containers thereby short changing the system.