WORRIED by the persistent congestions in the nation's ports, especially the Apapa and Tin Can Ports, in Lagos, the House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the causes, and find short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions to the problem.
The House also urged the Nigeria Customs Service, NSC, to develop a speedy process of auctioning containers that are over 45 days at the ports, to make it more competitive with neighbouring countries.
The persistent congestion is reportedly responsible for the Apapa gridlock.
The House resolution was sequel to a motion, titled: Urgent Need to Proffer Solution to the Persistent Congestion at Nigerian Ports, moved by Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed, at yesterday's plenary.
In his motion, Ahmed noted that out of the six ports in Nigeria, the Apapa and Tin Can Ports jointly handled about 80 per cent of the country's total imports.
Ahmed said: "The two Lagos Ports have been bedevilled by excruciating congestions, which are adversely impacting on the ease of doing business, thus leading to loss of revenues to the country.
"The House is also concerned that obsolete clearing methods, abandonment of containers by importers, lack of automation of clearing, high terminal charges, exorbitant demurrage charges, absence of call-up system, cumbersome and multiple clearing procedures, corruption and other sharp practices have not helped the present situations, which have, so far, defied all solutions.
"Apapa Port, Tin Can Island Port, Onne Port and other Ports are presently harbouring nothing less than 8,000 containers which have remained uncleared, including those at Customs Warehouses which are not auctioned."
Adopting the motion after obtaining a favourable majority vote, the House gave the Committee three weeks within which to conclude the assignment and report back for further legislative action.
Ondo port is the way out, says Akeredolu
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to look into the establishment of the Deep Sea Port in the state, saying the proposed Port Ondo will go a long way to decongest the Apapa Port in Lagos State.
He spoke at the South-West Export Enlightenment and Engagement Forum with the theme: 'Maximizing Export potentials in the South-West Region for Economic Growth', in Akure.
Akeredolu said: "Everything going to southeast or South-South and the North must pass through Ondo state. All these activities will make us to advise the federal government on the importance of Port Ondo.
"Apapa will be decongested. We can boast of the deepest draught in West Africa. We are ready and we have done our work and people have shown interest. It is a pity we have to go through a lot of protocols including the port declaration."
Akeredolu said the Akure airport which was originally designed as a cargo airport, should be given due attention so that it can serve its purpose.
He said: "The airport in Akure is so busy now, but it is not serving the purpose for which it was established. The Akure airport was established as a cargo airport.
"We have said it should have a refrigerated area where people can refrigerate their goods before exporting them."
While speaking on the efforts of his administration in improving Cocoa production, he said: "In Ondo State, we have had some transformation since we got in.
"Ondo is the leading exporter of cocoa in Nigeria. It is an unfortunate development that we are not the leading producer in West Africa.
"When we came in, we knew there must be a transition. I see Agric as a business. When we came in, I met experts who spoke to us.
"They made a case for Agricpreneurs. That led us to Youth on the Ridges. We have trained about 5000 youths."