From left: Director, Regulatory Services, Nigerian Shippers Council, Ifeoma Ezedinma, the Executive Secretary /CEO of the Council, Hassan Bello, Country Manager, APM Terminals, Apapa,  Klaus Laursen, and Emeka Ogbaje of APMT during the visit to the headquarters of the Council in Lagos

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the country’s port economic regulator has made a strong case for terminal operators to waive all forms of storage charges for all export cargo.

This is in line with Federal Government’s efforts to boost non-oil exports to reduce the current over-dependence on the petroleum export given the fluctuations in the global market and also reflate the economy in the post-COVID-19 era.

The Executive Secretary/CEO of the council, Hassan Bello, who made the call when he played host to the new Country Manager, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Klaus Laursen, said there was need for all export cargo to be exempted from payment of storage charges to enhance their competitiveness in the global market.

According to him, the concessionaires should also accelerate the handling of all consignments for export through their terminals so that the payment of storage charges does not arise in the first place.

He said: “Current economic realities not only in Nigeria but across the globe require that export goods are priority to a nation and must be treated as such”.

Bello, who also expressed deep concerns over the increasing congestion at the terminal, however commended APMT for the acquisition of new cargo handling equipment.

He also informed the APMT Country Manager of Council’s resolve to ensure that all terminal processes are fully automated and integrated with other port service providers and users before the year runs out.

The NSC-boss also commended APMT management for collaborating with the Nigerian Railway Corporation NRC and barge operators in the movement of cargo in and out of the seaports, which if sustained would reduce the worsening congestion.

Meanwhile, Laursen in his response blamed the congestion at the terminal on the freight forwarders for not coming to clear their containers. This he said has contributed in no small way to the backlog of ships on Nigeria’s territorial waters waiting to berth.

He however disclosed that the company has been able to reduce yard occupancy from 98 per cent to 77 per cent.

On automation, Laursen said APMT plans to optimise haulage at its terminal by implementing an electronic platform for truck management, adding that discussions on this are ongoing with Nigerian Ports Authority NPA.

He added that the terminal issues, Terminal Delivery Orders TDO online, even as payments, invoicing and a range of other services are also done online so that freight forwarders would not need to be physically present at their terminal.

“With regard to export cargo, the cargo owners need to have all their documentations including Customs clearance before accessing the terminal”, Laursen also said.

In terms of movement of cargo by rail, he suggested that the NRC should advertise its services in order to increase patronage.