Shippers’ Council reassures on mediatory role

In response to the increasing complaints from freight forwarders on alleged delays in positioning of containers for examination and arbitrary charges for demurrage at the facilities of the Tincan Island Container Terminal Limited (TICT) and shipping companies, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has pledged that it will continue to effectively play its mediatory role in ensuring prompt delivery of cargoes at Nigerian ports.
The NSC Executive Secretary, Barrister Hassan Bello, who made the pledge yesterday when he visited the TICT terminal and the facilities of Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL), both at the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos, said that it is disheartening that Nigerian shippers are made to go through a lot of difficulties to get their consignments cleared from the ports.
He said that the visit, which, according to him, is a follow up to the visit of the Special Special Assistant to the President on Maritime Services, Mr. Leke Oyewole, was not to trade blames, but to ascertain the trueness of the complaints emanating from the port users.

“The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been having meeting with these terminal operators and others. We are here to see physically what is happening. We are aware of your complaints and you are not meant to suffer these indignities. We have told the terminal operators that there are many things which must be streamlined in their operation here. You should not be made to pay for what is not your fault. If these things have been done we have powers to reverse them back. Nobody should be made to pay for what he has not incurred,” Bello said.
Describing cargo clearance operations at the Nigerian port as near-primitive, Bello noted that, with the cumbersome procedure of cargo clearance, benefits of the ports reforms will not be fully realised.
He restated that the essence of ports reform is to encourage competition, adding that series of complaints from port users ,which, ordinarily, could have been avoided is due to lack of competition at Nigerian ports.
According to him, the NSC will, forthwith, commence monitoring of cargo dwell time at all terminals, noting that the terminals are created as a transient facility to clear cargoes as soon as they arrived the ports and not be made a storage facility or holding bay.
He said that the Council has also been empowered to exact sanction on any erring terminal operator.

“The dwell time for cargo is very lengthy, which is not supposed to be so. 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 actualization of the benefits of the port reforms will be arrested,” he said.
He advised the agents on true declaration and the need to be more compliant to import guidelines, noting that delays sometimes could be as a result of false declaration.
In defence of the aggrieved agents, Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Tin-Can Chapter, Mr. David Chuks Kanikwu, explained to the NSC boss and his entourage that Customs agents don’t make declaration, but only work with what is contained in the bill of lading as it is presented by the importer.
“Agents don’t declare; we operate on said-to-contain (STC). It is only during physical examination that you know what is there; so, it is not agents that they will be blaming,” Kanikwu said.

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