Congestion: Revive Kirikiri, Lilypond Port Terminals, ANLCA tells Customs
National President of ANLCA, Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike.
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA has charged the Nigeria Customs Service to revive the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal KLT and the Lilypond Terminal also called Tin Can Island Port Extension by stemming of containers to the terminals to curtail the congestion at the conventional seaports, especially Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Port Complex, both in Lagos.
National President of the association, Iju Tony Nwabunike, who played host to the Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone A, Lagos of the service, Assistant Comptroller General Musa Dahiru during a courtesy visit to the association’s secretariat Tuesday, also made a strong case for the transfer of over time cargoes to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal to ease off the pressure on the conventional seaports.
The president, who reeled out the operational challenges and hiccups faced by customs brokers and other freight forwarding practitioners ranging from stopping of already cleared containers on the highways, illegal checkpoints, sending of multiple alerts by different units of the service and indiscriminate hacking of brokers’ licenses, among several others, also drew the attention of the ACG to the fact that both terminals currently lie idle.
According to him, both terminals operate at less than 20 per cent installed capacity while the other port terminals within the LPC and Tin Can Ports have over-shut their capacities with the attendant congestion and delays, which more often than not leads to the payment of demurrage and incurring other avoidable costs, which are passed down to the final consumers, which he argued, was not good for the nation’s economy.
Going down the memory lane, the president recalled that the primary reason for establishing these terminals was to take care of some of the containers at the conventional seaports in order to reduce pressure and congestion with the attendant delays, wondering why these terminals with all the necessary facilities and manpower should be allowed to waste away.
“On daily basis officials of the various government agencies posted to these terminals including officers and men of customs resume and close at the end of the day without doing any work while those in the conventional ports are over-worked, which causes delays and importers, our principals are made to bear the brunt of delays they did not cause”
“Ultimately, all the revenues go to the same government’s coffers whether they are collected at Apapa, Tin Can or any of the terminals. But our concern is in the area of promoting ease of doing business in the maritime industry because when the chips are down, the importers and the customs brokers bear the burden of such delays associated with cargo congestion.
He cited the Customs and Excise Management CEMA, which stipulates that all over time cargo should be transferred to the terminals, designated for them within 28 days, but regretted that some shipping companies and terminal operators would not want to allow that because they make money on rent and demurrage payments arising from that.
Meanwhile, the ACG had while speaking earlier, disclosed that his visit to the association was to seek its support and cooperation in zeal of the service to ensure honesty and integrity by its members in their trade practices, especially in its resolve to generate as much revenue as possible and also facilitate trade.
While warning that the service will no longer tolerate such fraud associated with trade, he said the service needs the support and cooperation of the customs brokers to succeed.
“I needed to be here because the association, ANLCA has ‘grade A’ stakeholders and we cannot afford to leave them behind. Recall that I was at the inauguration of the new EXCO even at a very short notice because I respect all of you”
“I appreciate the warm welcome you have given to us, I also appreciate the fact that your members in their large numbers are here waiting even before our arrival, which also shows that you respect us. We are here to solicit your support and cooperation in many areas where there is need for me to make a noise. All of us are working towards making Nigeria great and so we should not work against the interest of the nation”, he said emphatically.
The ACG specifically sought the support and cooperation of the customs brokers towards making the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information Service NICIS ii, recently introduced by the various commands in Lagos to succeed, adding that the new system requires transparency to operate optimally to achieve the desired goals and objectives.