There are palpable fears that the Lilypond Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may suffer serious setback in its operations in the next six months when Lilypond Container Depot Nigerian Limited, formally withdraws from the facility.
Manager of Lilypond Container Depot, Mr. Tristram Denyer, last week announced the sudden withdrawal of his company from the concession agreement it signed in 2006 with the federal government on managing the Lilypond Terminal located at Ijora, Lagos.
Denyer said the action was hinged on protracted losses being incurred by the company as a result of poor availability of containers.
He said that even though the company had invested over $15 million about (N2.4 billion) in developing the facility since it won the concession in 2006, the business model upon which the concession was granted can no longer be sustained.
The development, according to Denyer, had occasioned a colossal monthly loss of over $5 million (about N800 million) which is now unbearable, hence the pull-out, before the expiration of the 10 years concession agreement.
He said that the company had officially notified the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of its decisions to embark on the gradual withdrawal which would ultimately take effect within the next six months.
But the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Command, Comptroller Willy Egbudin, in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office last week, expressed concerns that after the construction work currently going on at the main Apapa port facility being operated by APM Terminals, which is expected to be completed before the end of this year, containers may no longer be stemmed to the Lilypond terminal.
With a monthly revenue target of N5 billion, the Command was able to collect only N654 million, representing 13 per cent performance, in the month of July.
Egbudin said the July collection was the highest so far this year since containers had not been transferred to the terminal in over a year. He said his officers had practically been idle due to inactivity.
Some customs agents operating at the command also expressed worries over the withdrawal of the terminal operator noting that if the depot is allocated to another concessionaire that does not have the ability to stem containers there, the command may gradually wind up.