Port Harcourt — It was grumbling galore over delay of scanning of containers at the Seaport Onne when Vanguard Features visited last week. Most of the containers were on queue waiting for whenever they would be cleared.
Some owners of the containers enjoined the firm handling clearance of containers at the port, SGS, to improve on its service delivery. According to Chief Obi Chima, when the firm first resumed operations at the port agents were satisfied with the service. Continuing, he said the Nigeria Customs should be made to take over scanning of the containers, stressing that this would enhance efficiency at the Port.
Chief Chima said the delay at the port at the moment was causing port users a huge loss. He said productive man hours were being wasted at the queue. Sadly enough, he said, this was happening at a time the Federal Government was promising 24-hour port operations.
"We don't know how to describe them now because they are not doing what they used to do; time is money. We want to emphasise on the in activities of SGS, the scanning company operating in Onne seaport; their inefficiency in facilitating the trade is causing lots of delay in the facilitation of clearance of goods at Onne seaports chapter. When they started everybody saw them as an easy place to make clearance but they have become inefficient, " he lamented.
Chief Obi who was former Chairman, Port Harcourt Seaport One Association of Nigeria Licence Customs Agent, ANALCA, said agents had become frustrated with the situation at the port, adding that the earlier the Federal Government acted the better it would be for the industry
"The earlier the Federal Government hands over to the Customs to do this job the better for the nation. We are frustrated with the way SGS operates. They don't come to work early, yet they will go on break by noon. So at break time you don't see anybody to attend to you. All these contribute to why containers are delayed at the terminal. And this delay is not helping the industry. "
Continuing, he said there was urgent need for the government to take decisive steps to save the port from witnessing another round of congestion. "Government is talking of 24-hour clearing system at the ports in the country to avoid congestion yet we are experiencing this problem of delay. We fear that if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the ugly trend there will be another problem of congestion here", he added.
Some other agents who spoke said in the meantime the firm in charge of clearance of containers should extend its working hours to meet up demand at the port. They said it was disturbing that containers could be on queue for so long.
When Vanguard Features visited the seaport several trucks were on queue waiting to be attended to. No staff of the firm was willing to speak on the complaints by port users.