Cost of doing business especially for importation of goods through the Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) in Lagos has risen by 600 per cent in just one year, with importers and other business persons in the maritime industry attributing this to part of the reasons for current economic recession.
Records shows that the cost of shipping containers into Nigeria had risen by 600 per cent and that in the first half of 2020, it cost $1,000 to ship a 20-foot container to Nigeria from the Far East, adding that the cost charged by shipping lines for the same service had now risen to between $5,500 and $6,000.
In a reaction to the findings, President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), Tony Iju Nwabunike, said haulage cost from Tin Can to any other part of Lagos had also risen by more than 1,000 per cent from about N100,000 to about N1.2 million in the same period.
Nwabunike said congestion at the port forced many shipping lines to start diverting Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighbouring ports in Cotonou in Benin Republic and Ivory Coast.
Importers, clearing agents and truck owners are also worried over the worsening gridlock along the port’s access roads.
They alleged that officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) security department, the police and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock, who were deployed to manage the congestion, are extorting them.
A truck owner and an executive member of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Sanni Bala, said: “The issue of traffic on the access roads is artificial, because without the traffic, there is no way they can extort people and they create the traffic by delaying truckers. They collect money ranging from N70,000 to N200,000. Most truckers are left with nothing to take home and maintain their trucks, and yet the Lagos State Government will be complaining of rickety trucks.”
Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, confirmed this, saying: “What is happening at Tin Can is business is still going on as usual and the task team has refused to leave because it is benefiting from the chaos. Its members have formed a cartel, and if you are not in that group, they will not pass your truck no matter who you are.”
A clearing agent at the port, Ojo Akintoye, said, “From the first gate to the second gate, we have about four roadblocks mounted by the security agents and the trucks must part with money before they can move. We pay between N1.1m and N1.2m per truck as against N100,000 to move our containers out of the port.
“The cheapest truck you can get to hire is N1m. We had never experienced it this way,” Akintoye lamented.
Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Kayode Farinto, called for the disbandment of the Presidential Task Team, noting that clearing agents lose about N300m weekly to illegal collection on the port route.
When contacted for comments, the Head of Corporate Communication of NPA, Engr. Jatto Adams, said the management had advised truck drivers who have been extorted to report to the head of security at the NPA headquarters who would in turn take disciplinary action on those involved.
“The current management under the leadership of Hadiza Bala Usman does not tolerate corruption. She advised that cases of extortion be reported to management, but as it is, none of them has deemed it necessary to come forward.”
Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Kayode Opeifa, did not respond to several telephone calls and text messages sent to him seeking for comments.
Tin Can roads: Workers plan strike today
Meanwhile the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) said it has ordered its members to embark on a three-day warning strike from Monday, December 7, 2020, to protest the deplorable state of access roads to TCIP.
Rising from an emergency meeting held in Lagos on Saturday, the union said the state of the roads had impacted negatively on business activities at the port.
In a communiqué by the President-General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, and the Secretary-General, Comrade Felix Akingboye, its National Executive Committee (NEC) said the situation was no longer tolerable.
“To avoid unnecessary deaths, as well as loss of man hours on the failed roads, the NEC in-session hereby calls on the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to urgently fix the access roads and make them motorable.”
The union said the response from the government would determine its next line of action after the warning strike.
Copyright Daily Trust