Shippers’ Council boss, Bello, labels Nigeria’s cargo clearing ‘near-primitive’

Shippers’ Council boss, Bello, labels Nigeria’s cargo clearing ‘near-primitive’
• APM Terminals’ new examination bay to be ready next month
• Transport Minister visits Lagos ports

The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, has criticised the process of goods clearance at the nation’s seaports, describing it as archaic and “near primitive”.
During a visit to the Tincan Island Container Terminal (TICT) at the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos, last week, Bello noted that the, with present cumbersome procedure of cargo clearance at the ports, the benefits of port reforms will not be fully realised.
The NSC boss said that cargo dwell time at the port was too long, while importers and their agents have turned the port facilities into storage areas.
“The port is not a storage facility; it is a transient facility where cargo should be delivered as soon as it is brought into the ports. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council will continue with this rigorous examination and inspection. We are going to come up with a manual or procedure because there are many institutions in the port each with specific responsibilities. There must be synergy and interchange for prompt cargo clearance. We can’t have such procedures happening in Nigerian ports, otherwise the actualisation of the benefits of the port reforms will be arrested,” he said.

Bello’s comment is coming on the heels of complaints by some clearing agents over delays experienced in clearing their containers at the port.
Meanwhile the management of APM Terminals Apapa Limited has informed the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, that Customs physical examination will be moved temporarily to a paved section of the terminal by first week of October this year.
Mr. Daniel Odibe, who briefed the Transport Minister at the terminal last Friday, said that the relocation of the physical examination site could not be done before now due to ongoing construction work at the terminal.
Odibe said that APM Terminals is a responsible and highly professional company that is always working towards meeting the yearnings and aspirations of its customers.
He explained that the new site has capacity for examination of 200 containers per time.

He said that the relocation of the physical examination site is temporary as a more permanent solution to physical examination at the terminal will be the revolutionary multi-level racking system the company has developed and will deploy in the second quarter of 2014.
Odibe said that the current open area being used for physical examination is because an earlier examination bay built for that purpose at the cost of USD4 million (N640 million) in 2010 could not be used by the Customs due to process variance.
The Minister, while commending APM Terminals for its expertise and huge investment at the Apapa Port, advised the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Charles Edike, to work with the management of APM Terminals to facilitate cargo clearance at the port.
He advised the CAC to make information available in advance to APM Terminals to enable it plan ahead for containers scheduled for scanning or physical examination.
The Transport Minister, who earlier visited the TICT Terminal at the TCIPC, was in Lagos to assess the situation at various terminals, especially TICT’s which is currently battling with congestion.