19 September 2018

Nigeria: NPA, Terminal Operators At War Over Illegal Port Charges

THE Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, is currently at war with some terminal operators over newly introduced charges, which Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, NPA's boss has warned agents and importers to ignore.

Speaking during a visit to Vanguard Media office in Lagos, Usman said that despite NPA's warning to the terminal operators and shipping firms to desist from introducing arbitrary charges, these operators still went ahead with charges.

Usman explained that a container positioning fee introduced by one of the terminal operators was rebuffed by the NPA as the charge was not tied to a service.

Meanwhile, stakeholders at the Tin Can Island Port have raised an alarm over what they described as alleged high handedness of a terminal operator, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), which allegedly collects storage and rent charges on containers, even when the cargoes are yet to arrive at its terminal.

Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report at the terminal, a licensed customs agent, Jonathan Owoh, alleged that without due consultations with the importer, TICT stems containers to its off-dock terminal, SCOA bonded terminal at Kirikiri, Lagos, and that two weeks before arrival of the container, TICT starts charging rent on it.

Owoh said that on most occasions shipping companies collect N20,000 per day, while terminal operators collect N12,000 per day on such a container.

"TICT charges N12,000 per container, they are the owners of SCOA, initially when they allocate a ship to SCOA, they will not charge you until the container is transferred to the terminal, but now if they allocate a ship, they will start charging you from that very day to pay storage without you seeing the container, it might take them three weeks or one month to transfer the container and you will pay them the whole storage, this is very bad".

He also lamented that due to the perennial traffic gridlock on the access roads to the Tin Can Island Port, the TICT commenced the use of barges to move containers to SCOA terminal. He however said that the process is slow.

"It was recently that they started using barges due to the bad state of the roads, and this barge takes them time. Initially they don't charge until you see your container and after three days they start charging, but now they don't do it, they are ripping us off.

"They were the ones that allocate the ship to SCOA by themselves, it is not on demand, it is their duty to take their containers to where they are stemming it to"

Also corroborating this point, Public Relations Officer of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Tin Can Port chapter, Emmanuel Onyeme said the terminal operator was taking undue advantage of the traffic gridlock in Apapa to milk clearing agents.

"This has been the old system of the terminal operators, that is what they do, every opportunity is an added advantage to them, they capitalise on it, more so when their issues on ground like the transportation and not having holding bays, they capitalise on it", he said.

In his reaction, General Manager of TICT terminal, Etienne Rochers, described the report as untrue.

He challenged any operator with genuine complaints to come forward with it.

Rochers said "If anyone has allegation, he should come out with allegation of any wrong doing , but I am not going to make comments over the phone because I don't know who I am talking to , I would suggest that you send me a mail"

"In any case, there is so many rumour that circulates every day on many subjects, so I will not respond to any allegations, you can please send me an email and we would take it from there", he said.

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