Global Scan’s inefficiency has induced tremendous pressure on the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which has resorted to re-routing most of the containers, that were otherwise scheduled for scanning, to undergo physical examination.
A time-consuming and largely inefficient process, the high rate of physical examination is also taking its toll on cargo delivery at the nation’s premier port, as over 700 containers were said to be on queue awaiting physical examination ,while about 900 containers were awaiting scanning as at Friday, when SHIPS & PORTS DAILY visited the port.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY investigation revealed that, while about 250 containers are scheduled to be scanned daily by the Customs, GSSL successfully scans only about half the number, thereby piling up over 100 containers daily on the queue.At the physical examination site, it was revealed that less than 80 containers are successfully examined daily by the Customs examination teams out of about 200 scheduled for that exercise.
This also results in a long queue and backlog of containers awaiting examination.
The situation is already leading to tension and apprehension at the LPC, as importers pile up demurrage and storage charges, because containers booked for scanning or physical examination stay up to two weeks before they are attended to by either the service provider or the Customs examination teams.
Chief Executive of Simantra Agency, a clearing and forwarding agent operating at the LPC, Mr. Francis Nwoye, said: “There are delays of several days on the physical examination of containers currently due to problems with the operations of the new scanning service provider. Because of this, many containers are being re-routed from scanning to physical inspection.”
Out of sympathy for the importers who are caught in the logjam, one of the major operators at the port, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, has began to discount the storage charges on containers so affected.
“APM Terminals has been very reasonable since this problem started because it is not their fault that this is happening. It is the service provider and Customs but they have been giving discount on the storage charges related to the number of days of delay in positioning,” Nwoye stated.
A source at APM Terminals confirmed that the company has been offering discounts on container storage charges due to positioning delays as a matter of course to all its customers and on compassionate grounds.
Stakeholders including the Presidential Committee on Port Reforms and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of GSSL since it took over the scanner site from Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL) at the LPC in June.
LCCI said that the takeover was not in the best interest of its members operating at the port.
The LCCI Director-General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, in an exclusive chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office, said that the chamber was disturbed by its port sector members’ complaints about the challenges that the new regime of destination inspection service provider at LPC pose to their businesses.
“Our members are complaining of the very serious congestion that has resulted from the change in the inspection agents at the port.
Clearly, the new company that has taken over does not have the capacity that the previous company has, that is now comparing Cotecna with Global Scan, and this is taking quite a very serious toll on businesses. People are complaining about demurrage which they have to pay and this has implications for cost. They are complaining about speed of delivery to factories – raw materials and things that have been stuck in the port. They are complaining also about the cost of fund because most of these cargos are brought in through borrowed funds and the longer they stay at the port the more interest you have to pay to the bank. So, from all angles it is really a very unfortunate situation,” Yusuf said.
The LCCI Director-General expressed disappointment in the Minister of Finance for favouring the move for Global Scan to take over from CDIL despite the resulting odds against port reforms.
“It came to us as a surprise that Finance Minister who we see as a champion of the reform of the port has issued the directive that Global Scan should take over from Cotecna. We don’t have anything against any organization but for a strategic port such as the Apapa Port what should be paramount is the capacity to deliver in the choice of any agent that take the role of inspection agents or even any role for that matter in that port. The port is too strategic for any government or any person to be using as a platform for patronage because the implication for the economy is quite enormous,” he stated.
Members of the Presidential Port Reforms Committee, headed by Prof. Sylvester Monye, who doubles as Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, had expressed similar concerns over the operation of Global Scan Systems Limited, during one of their meetings in Lagos recently.