ANLCA demands stakeholders’ meeting over planned vessel diversion to eastern ports


…Calls for dredging of eastern ports

Following plans by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to divert vessels to the eastern ports on event of congestion at the Lagos pilotage district, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called on the management of NPA to organize stakeholders’ meeting so as to be on the same page with stakeholders on the importance of vessels diversion at this critical moment.

The National President of ANLCA, Chief Iju Tony Nwabunike who made this call in a press briefing at the ANLCA National Secretariat in Lagos on Tuesday stated that NPA need to engage, most importantly, the consignees who actually were the ones getting these consignments into the country and make them understand the importance of the proposed diversion to the economy and to their businesses.

He noted that although NPA had the right to divert vessels going by their guidelines and procedures, it had to look at some critical issues associated with the move especially to determine who the critical stakeholders were.

According to him, “I think the congestion of Nigerian seaports; Apapa and Tincan did not start today. So, it is a matter of having a stakeholders’ meeting with these people and advise them to begin to use other ports that are available. If you take these consignments, for example, that are supposed to be routed for Apapa and you take them to Calabar, on whose expense should that be? If you look at the position of NPA, they have the right to divert cargo but look at the other way round, what is the implication of this thing to the final consumers of these good and services? So, on that note, I think, congestion, we have been speaking about it, that was why we went to Abuja and we are still moving forward to meet the appropriate authorities on that.

“On diversion of cargo, I think NPA should have a serious stakeholders ‘meeting, most importantly, with the consignees who are actually getting these consignments so that we will know and they will know the importance of diversion. Then, finally, they must dredge the ports. If you are telling somebody to take his goods to Calabar, you must give him a good platform on how to get that thing done.

“Recently, I learnt that one of the critical stakeholders in our industry, SIFAX is taking over Warri port and very soon, it is going to be a very wonderful and existing port.”

He recalled that before now, ANLCA’s position had been that the federal government should begin to decentralize the seaports saying “if you look at the ports, despite the fact that there are no good roads, gridlocks and all the rest of them, the influx of consignments coming to Lagos either Apapa or Tincan is high and we noticed that at a time, Onne and Port-Harcourt Area 1 is equally experiencing a high turnaround.”

The ANLCA boss disclosed that there was so much jubilation when Hull Blythe actually took some consignments to Calabar and people were excited and some members of Calabar Chamber of Commerce sent them a letter, congratulating them for making it possible to bring in some goods to Calabar.

“But let me say that the federal government should dredge the Calabar seaport, Warri seaport and they should decentralize the ports but you have to do it systematically, you don’t have to, in as much as the dwell time is getting high, 20 days cargo dwell time was what NPA has actually reported, that most times, consignments are staying more than 20 days now, they have all the rights and prerogatives to divert vessels”, he added.

Photo: ANLCA National President, Chief Iju Tony Nwabunike.

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