The increasing rate of abandoned containers currently causing congestion at the seaports has triggered concerns among the stakeholders. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have immediately swung into action to decongest the ports.
The Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has urged the Customs to auction the overtime containers in a bid to decongest the seaports.
The Guardian gathered that the importers have abandoned the cargoes at the seaport due to cumbersome Customs procedures and high cost of clearance.
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A cargo is classified as overtime if it stays more than 90 days in the seaport after discharge from the ship and such cargoes are subject to seizure by Customs.
Bello-Koko, at an interactive session organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs, said there are over 5,000 overtime containers across the seaports in the country with some occupying space over a year.
He stated: “Currently, there are over 5,000 containers across the ports that are overtime cargo. Some of these containers are more than a year old, and when you leave these containers, they are occupying space that would have been used for containers imported into the country.
“The containers are supposed to be evacuated to the Ikorodu terminal. Currently Ikorodu terminal has over 2,500 containers. “The place is filled up; Nigeria Customs has not auctioned containers to the best of our knowledge in recent times. So there is even no space for more containers.
“We have not seen any container moved out of the Ikorodu terminal for auction in recent times. So there is a need for that to be done to free the ports of overtime cargo. Some of them have been there for many years. That is a major problem. If that can be handled, the terminals would be freer to receive new imports and there will be more space for that.”
However, the NCS has begun sensitization workshop for stakeholders on the “Overtime Cargo Clearance Procedure”.
In a circular number NCS/TCIP/CAC/004/S.13 which is dated 2nd September 202l, the NCS stated: “Sequel to the CGC’s approval for the conduct of a sensitization workshop for stakeholders on the Overtime Cargo Clearance Procedure, I am directed to ‘notify you that the exercise has been scheduled to take place between 6th to 10th September 2021.
“Accordingly, you should further note that the exercise will be conducted in three zones A, B, C of the Service. That of Zone ’A’ Lagos will hold at the Customs Training College on September 8, 2021 @ lOOOhrs” it stated.
Meanwhile, the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents, NCMDLCA, has accused Customs of deliberately frustrating a presidential directive to transfer such consignments to the government warehouse in Ikorodu.