Chairman, Seaports Terminal Operators of Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has identified inconsistent government policies, improper documentation by port users and under-declaration by importers as factors hampering service delivery at the nation’s seaports.
While delivering a paper on Friday at a one-day roundtable discussion on cargo exposure to risks of damage, loss and delay at Nigerian ports and terminals organised by the Cargo Defence Fund (CDF) of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), STOAN Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, also said that improper cargo storage system and poor packaging of cargo especially those arriving Nigeria from other third world countries contribute to cargo damage.
Haastrup, who is the Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium, operators of Terminals C and D of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa; said that most of the vessels bringing cargo into Nigeria are old while their gears develop problems during discharge operation.
According to her, “Under-declaration is also part of the reasons why cargoes are damaged. A situation where an importer declares a container that weighs 60 tons as 50 tons and you as terminal operator deploys a 50-ton capacity equipment to lift a 60-ton container; what do you expect if not cargo damage?”
The STOAN chairman said some importers whose goods were discharged in November 2013 under the old destination inspection regime handled by service providers were yet to take delivery of their cargoes.
“Importers who imported goods after Customs changed from Risk Assessment Report (RAR) to Pre-Arrival Assessment Reports (PAAR) still have their cargoes in the terminals and it was recently the Customs Comptroller General gave additional two weeks for the cargoes to be cleared,” she said explaining that such anomalies create delays in the cargo logistics chain and are recipes for port congestion.
Haastrup also called on the harmonisation of ship inspection procedures by government agencies at the port in order to minimise vessel delays and reduce the cost of doing business.
Haastrup tasked importers and agents to embrace genuine declaration and support the Nigeria Customs Service to achieve success and fast cargo clearance on the platform of the Nigeria Trade Hub and the PAAR scheme.
She said the time for trading blames by port users and port operators is over.
“It is important that all of us work together to drive efficiency at the port. We must support the government to achieve its target of prompt cargo clearance and lower cost of operation. It is a herculean task but with unity of purpose, there is no limit to what we can achieve,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar who was represented by the Permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Engr. Nebolisa Emordi, advocated team work among port users and service providers at the nation’s gateways.
He charged importers to be upright and exhibit integrity in the course of their transactions at the port.