Clearing agents and freight forwarders operating at the Port and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML), at the Tin can Island Port Complex, Apapa, have kicked against the recent introduction of electronic port pass initiated by Grimaldi shipping, operators of PTML.
The agents who spoke at a stakeholders gathering put together by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) PTML chapter last week Thursday complained that the new system has resulted in unnecessary delay of their consignments from being released by customs personnel thus making them pay demurrages most of the times.
“Before the implementation, everything has been going on well here but since they began the enforcement of the port pass, if you bring any work for signing at the gate even customs officers will be asking for the port pass. Before, you can work and take delivery of your consignment in 48hours but now without the port pass it will take you nothing less than six days to clear while demurrage will continue to accrue”, a clearing agent, Adedairo Williams said.
Olalekan Bamidele, a member of ANLCA also find faults with the terminal operator argument that the ports pass only deals with licensed agency contrary to what is obtainable in the past where individual agents have free access to the terminal.
He described the policy as not human friendly as according to him, it has deprived some agents of their source of livelihood.
“Some agencies have as much as 20 to 50 consignments, how many staff do they have to do the job. They said you have to tender the ID card before you can sign what if an agent does not have job but have agencies that have more jobs to give out and could make a living from?
“We are all hustlers in Nigeria because nobody is living on salary, then if you now make a policy that I cannot make a living how can I look at you as a friend? Even the agencies have limited number of cards because PTML make provision for only 10 cards for each agency”, Bamidele said.
In his response, General Manager of Grimaldi Shipping, Tunde Keshinro, explained that the reason behind the introduction of the port pass is to eliminate frequent cases of fraudulent act by some agents noting that owners of licenses sometimes are not even aware that their license were used to endorse jobs.
“Some people have been coming to pay us with fake bank drafts, with fake instrument. Don’t we now have the responsibility to see that we are security conscious and in compliance with the laws of Nigeria?”, Keshinro asked.
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