LACK OF FUNDS FRUSTRATE OVERTIME CARGOES TRANSFER
By Ifeyinwa Obi
Lack of funds maybe frustrating timely transfer of overtime cargoes to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal (ILT) from the Lagos ports by the Ports Reforms Monitoring Committee.
The committee set up late last year to, among others, decongest the nation's seaports of overtime consignments abandoned by some importers and government agencies by ensuring that these cargoes are evacuated to the Customs Warehouse at the ILT located in Ikorodu in the outskirts of Lagos.
It was gathered that the tempo of the overtime cargoes transfer has drastically reduced, from what it used to be soon after the committee was inaugurated and commenced the mission.
A group of agents operating at the terminal told Ships & Ports that as a result of the situation, some of them have now resorted to transferring their containers themselves, rather than, according to them, paying 'exorbitant transfer charges,' allegedly imposed on them by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
The agents claimed that they are compelled to pay as much as N250, 000 for a 40-foot container, and 150,000 for a 40-foot container as transfer charges, as against 80,000 and 50,000, respectively, previously paid.
One of the agents, who pleaded anonymity, lamented that in spite of the high cost of transferring a container, Customs officers operating at the terminal allegedly still collect illegal charges for transfer of documents from one office to the other.
However, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), ILT Command, Comptroller Abdulhameed Hassan, dismissed the allegation, saying that no agent has ever complained about this to him.
'Nobody has ever come to me to report such. I'm just hearing this for the first time. How can I know whether it is true or not, so that I can remedy the situation, if nobody has ever boldly come to me to report that my officers are asking for illegal fees? You can ask the agents if they have been to me report such case,' he said
On the level of activities in the command, the CAC noted that these have been on the increase in the past but have been considerably low as a result of the reduction in cargoes transferred to the terminal lately.