Importers abandon 150 containers, 100 vehicles at Tin Can - THE NATION
By: Oluwakemi Dauda
Over 150 containers and 100 vehicles worth over N1 billion have been abandoned at Tin-Can Island Port and other bonded terminals in Lagos because of bad roads.
Source said the importers were also finding it difficult to get loans to fund their business.
The devaluation of the naira and the bad roads are said to be affecting their operations.
A source said the Federal Government is not helping matters
by not getting terminal operators and shipping firms to reduce their charges.
The President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, gave five reasons why importers abandoned their goods:
- the ports are the most expensive in West Africa;
- bad roads;
- high exchange rate;
- non-availability of trailer parks and holding bays for empty containers and
- poor mechanism in controlling trucks and tankers that are coming to the ports and its environ
Banks, an importer, Mr Festus Owolabi said, has stopped lending to importers because of the fall of the naira and the increase in the prices of goods.
“There is no doubt that activities at the ports have reduced because of the exchange rate. The terminal operators and the shipping companies are also not helping matters. Our port is the most expensive in the sub-region. Most importers are not making profit and that is why they have decided to abandon their goods at the ports.
‘’The roads are bad. Many goods are trapped at the port; there is bound to be congestion, most of the importers borrowed money from the banks; before they collect their Bill of Lading, they must make the payment, but what is happening now is that, with the exchange rate, they are finding it difficult to get the balance and pay back to collect the papers and clear their cargoes.
“Many importers with Bill of Lading are also finding it difficult to pay Customs duties because of the value of the naira and that is why goods worth billion of naira are trapped at the ports.
“As the situation of the road is now, there is no cargo that does not go into demurrage in Nigeria because the shipping companies start collecting money immediately the cargo arrives at the port.” he said.
He said importers pay N360 to N370 as official rate to a dollar for Customs’ transactions.
A Customs officer, who pleaded anonymity, said many goods were trapped at the ports because of the bad roads, the exchange rate and the inability of the government to find solution to the traffic on the roads
He said: “We are aware that many importers are finding it difficult to pay their duties, but there is nothing we can do because that is the revenue we are asked to collect by the government. Once an importer brings an item into our port, he must pay the necessary duty unless he or she was given waiver before the importation commences.
“Except he pays the amount required by law, the only alternative opened to him is to abandon the goods. And that is why we are having so many containers, trucks and vehicles in the ports that have not been cleared by the importers. But my advice to them is to look for money, pay the duty and move their vehicles out of the ports before they become over-time cargo and confiscated by the government’’.