The management of leading global terminal operator, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, has asked the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to utilize the ultra-modern physical examination facility it built and handed over to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in 2010.
Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Dallas Hampton, who gave the charge while interacting with journalists in Lagos yesterday, said that the facility was specially built by his company three years ago to provide decent and conducive office accommodation to officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and also serve as facility for the physical inspection of containers and for related administration of Customs operations at the terminal.
He however lamented that despite the huge investment of $4 million (about N640 million) made by his company in building the facility, Customs has refused to use it preferring rather to use a make-shift open area thus subjecting importers and their agents to sunlight and rainfall.
Hampton said that the multi-million naira Customs building has 14 container examination bays and 235 square metres net office area all built to British Standard and fully equipped with modern electronic gadgets and information technology.
He urged the new Customs Area Controller of the Command to utilize the facility in order to reduce the unnecessary exposure of his men and port users to unfriendly weather conditions.
Hampton also disclosed that due to the unusually high rate of physical examination of containers by NCS operatives, APM Terminals Apapa is constructing a new physical inspection facility has necessitated a fresh investment of additional $10 million (about N1.6 billion).
He said the facility, the first of its kind in the world, will utilize a multi-level racking system operated by yard cranes.
The new, revolutionary multi-level racking inspection system is being constructed in China and will be delivered to the terminal before the end of this quarter.
Borne out of the need to cope with the abnormally high rate of physical examination of containers by Customs, the facility is part of the Phase Three of the modernization and upgrading of APM Terminals Apapa, which includes terminal yard redevelopment and expansion, including new staff amenities and customer service building, acquisition of additional container handling equipment, and implementation of new terminal operating systems.
Hampton said that the expansion project will also convert the terminal to full Rubber-Tyred-Gantry (RTG) operations, and includes purchase of additional container handling equipment, a new customer service building, new employee amenities buildings as well as office for Nigeria Customs, and a new Customs container inspection area.
“The project will also include state of the art terminal control systems including a satellite based container positioning system,” he said.
Hampton also said that his company has more than enough cargo handling equipment. He said APM Terminals operates with more than 1.5 times the amount of equipment required for a facility the same size elsewhere.
He said no terminal operator in the country can match the expertise and volume of investment of APM Terminals in Apapa. He urged importers to embrace honest declaration as a way of reducing the high rate of physical examination of goods at the port which he said greatly hampers efficiency in the system.
The APM Terminals boss also described talks about ‘arbitrary charges imposed by terminal operators’ as a myth. He said it is impossible for terminal operators to charge arbitrarily as their charges are strictly regulated by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which must approve any such charges.
He also said that terminal operators have increased Terminal Handling Charges (THC) only once, with due approval of NPA, over the past six years.