Stakeholders seek transfer of overtime cargoes to bonded terminals


…As customs order collation of overtime cargoes

Stakeholders at the nation’s maritime industry have called for cargoes that have stayed for twenty-eight days at the port terminals to be transferred to the bonded terminals as port according to them is a transit place.

The stakeholders made the call at the stakeholders meeting organized by the new Customs Area Controller of the Apapa Customs command, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir on Tuesday in Lagos.

One of them, the Zonal Coordinator West of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief John Oforbike advised that cargo dwelling time at the port should not be more than it supposed to be.

“At the end of the day, the cargo will stay here, the importer will pay heavily after paying the normal statutory duty or charge, the terminal operator will increase, the shipping company will increase and the end users, Nigerians will bear the brunt.

“This is customs port, normally, the port here is a transit place, the cargo comes here, you take it to off dock where they can be easily turned around to see that ships berth. We have bonded terminals under Apapa command and looking at the roads now, it is hell coming to Apapa, I want to appreciate the officers, they don’t have any option than to come to Apapa, it is difficult to come here.

I want you to look at how it is going to be possible to make sure most of the bonded terminals under Apapa command are filled with containers. There is politics going on, please Mr. Controller, you have to look at that”, he said.

Oforbike alleged that most of the cargoes that were meant for Apapa were being diverted to some other bonded terminals that were not under Apapa while bonded terminals under Apapa command were lying fallow without cargo even as overtime cargoes were littered in the port.

He said,” We want you to use your good office to meet NPA to transfer containers to the place it supposed to be. It is twenty-eight days dwell time in the port, the terminal operators know that by law, if containers stay for twenty-eight days in the port, the law says they should meet certain officer, that is the APM, that the cargo should be destined to a designated area called bonded terminal where the people are going to pay less and if its stay for more than ninety days, it becomes government property.

“Most of the cargoes in this port have over stayed that there is no space to bring in more cargoes. Try to do something Mr. Controller so that cargoes should be transferred to the designated areas so that we can pay less and move our cargoes”.

Also speaking, the Secretary of the Association of Bonded Terminal Operators, Aare Asiwaju Haruna Omolajomo informed that most of the terminals, twenty-two of which were under Apapa command, work at less than 5% capacity even as he said that most of the officers that were posted to those bonded terminals were virtually doing nothing.

Omolajomo explained that it was not that the bonded terminals were lazy to work but goods were not transferred to them.

“We want to seek your indulgence, if you can make it possible that we can have export seat in these bonded terminals, I know some of them have started, I want a swift action whereby you can have export seat in all the bonded terminals and you can post one export officer there because most of them are ready to do export.

“In the aspect of empty, if you look at this environment now, you will discover that a lot of trucks litter the roads but if you can help to talk to other stakeholders so that they can use the bonded terminals as holding bays because you find out that most of the trucks you find outside there now will be a thing of the past.

“The other one is the issue of stemming of vessels, I know the CAC may not have the full authority to do that but you can help us to talk with other people. We have cargoes that are meant to be for twenty-eight days as dwell time in the seaport, we are pleading that after these twenty-eight days, they should be taken to the bonded terminals because the bonded terminals are ready to comply. We are even ready to cut down our terminal charges so that the agents”, he said.

Responding, the new Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir noted that there was nothing wrong in goods going to bonded terminals as far as customs operation was concerned adding that the service would appreciate if such operation would go unhindered because of the current challenges at the port.

He however pointed out that it was the absolute right of the importer to take his cargo wherever he wants to take it, bonded terminals and inland dry ports inclusive.

“So, customs is actually handicapped on that. I agree with you there are lots of politics in movement of cargo but I think with the caliber of personalities here, you are the ones to make such move to see that these bonded terminals are operational. It has nothing to do with customs.

“We are dealing with the issue of overtime cargo, by this week; we are going to conclude on all overtime goods. Let me crave your indulgence to see how you effectively check, those of you the Chairman of the Association of Bonded Terminals, tell all your members to list all your overtime cargoes and send to my office immediately, then let us see how we can harness the information we have within and outside the port and come into a final conclusion on those cargoes”, he said.

On call for creation of export seats at the bonded terminals, he stated, “There is no basis for me to create any export seat in any bonded terminal because every customs officer is for import and export in as much as he can release. And let me tell you, all the documentations of import and export are the same; the only difference is in the prefix. Process of examination is the same, process of release is the same, similarly in import, depending on what you are bringing, there are some levels of intervention where in some importation, you may need to get one kind of permit or the other, the same as in export”.

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