Ag. President, Proff. Osinbajo

Stakeholders under the aegis of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents NCMDLCA, have petitioned the Federal Government over the huge additional cost incurred by shippers on account of the gridlock on port access roads due to the poor state of the roads.

The stakeholders are therefore seeking a special waiver on demurrage, rent and haulage charges associated with the delays occasioned by the very poor state of the roads.

It is estimated that importers and exporters lose in excess of N144billion weekly on additional cost from rent, demurrage, haulage and other associated logistic charges due to the bad roads, which have worsened in the last one month with the increase in rain falls.

In a letter dated June 20, 2017, addressed to Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo and signed by the president of the association, Lucky Amiwero, the stakeholders drew the attention of the government to the dilapidated state of the port access roads, which they said had assumed an alarming proportion.

The letter entitled: “The need to grant waiver and special concession to goods that are held up in the seaports due to difficulty in assessing Nigeria’s ports in Lagos” reads in part: “We hereby draw the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the difficulty in assessing and exiting the Ports in Lagos due to the terrible condition of the Port access roads.

The condition has assumed an alarming proportion because of daily occurrence of destruction of loaded goods that always fall on cars, trailers and other articulated vehicles with the attendant loss of human lives”

“We are indeed, concerned about the state of our Port access roads In Lagos area, which accounts for between 75 and 80 per cent of cargo throughput in the country.

The group observed that the clearance of goods from seaports in Lagos is associated with high demurrage and storage charges as well as risk of loss during the carriage and continuous delays, which have heightened the cost of transportation, increase the number of days to access and exit the ports with the attendant.

It was further gathered that this development is further made worse by the risk associated with the haulage, as the consignments have continuously fallen out  of trucks  due to terrible condition of the access road within the port area.

The council argued that this has greatly increased the cost of cargo delivery due to policy inconsistency, lack of transparency and predictability in the cost of clearance of goods, which requires government’s urgent intervention.

According to the letter, the deplorable state of the port access roads linking Apapa Ports, Tin Can Island Ports, Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited, PTML  Lily Pond and Brawal terminals  with seriously damage portions, deep potholes and flood around the roads, cases of containers falling off the trucks on private moving vehicles and sometimes on persons.

“The negative effects of this situation created by the poor state of road and the attendant gridlocks, on the port access road, necessitated the stakeholders to petition the Federal Government on the state of the port access roads and its implication to the nation’s economy”.

“The neglect of the access roads to the gateway of Nigeria’s economy constitutes a serious setback to the nation, as the bad potholes, flooded port access roads and the gridlock contribute almost 25 per cent to the cumbersome and lengthy procedure in the clearance of goods from the ports with the attendant high cost of doing business, which is inimical to government’s policy of enhancing ease of doing business”, the group also said.

Investigations show that these and other challenges account for why Nigeria’s seaports have been adjudged the highest in terms of cost and ease of doing business with the attendant massive diversion of Nigeria-bound cargo to other neighboring countries’ seaports.

As part of measures to address the challenges associated with the maintenance of the port access roads, the group made a strong case for the implementation of the Port Act 1999, especially section 32-(a), which authorities the Nigerian Ports Authority to manage, maintain and control the port access roads.

The group argued that the full enforcement of this section had become expedient since the port access roads constitute trade facilitation infrastructure, which should be of national concern.

The stakeholders further made a strong case for the conversion of the seven per cent Port Development Levy for the maintenance of the roads, arguing that entrusting another agency with the responsibility of  maintaining port access roads was not right, as it has not achieved the desired goals over the years.