Clearing agents and Shippers at the nation’s seaports have expressed divergent views over the directive of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to divert vessels within the Lagos Pilotage District to the Eastern Ports starting from Monday January 27, 2020 to reduce vessel waiting time.
While the clearing agents have supported the initiative, saying it was a positive development which in the long run will engender cost efficiency and timely release of cargo.
Speaking on the development, the national secretary, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Abdulazeez Babatunde, said the plan was a positive one and charged NPA to implement the diversion fully since ports in Lagos could not deliver efficient and cost-effective ports handling operations.
Babatunde added the looming congestion in the ports was occasioned by shipping companies and terminals operators for their refusal to grant waivers to importers and customs agents on cargo in their possession.
But, the President of SALS Rev Jonathan Nicol said the decision by NPA would lead to additional cost of clearing the cargo for shippers and it would increase the cost of doing business.
Rev Nicole said the NPA’s decision is a clear declaration of a State of Emergency at Nigerian ports.
“This is an indirect way of declaring a state of emergency at the port, because if my Bill of Laden says Apapa port and you are now moving my cargo to Port Harcourt without my consent, that is a partial state of emergency, the NPA should just declare it so that everybody would know that we are grounded”
“My destination port is Apapa, and I probably have made all preparation to clear my goods at Apapa, if you now move it to Port Harcourt port, who pays for the transport? The transport fare from Port Harcourt to Lagos now cannot be determined, the price is increasing daily”
“So what is the usefulness of importing cargo if you cannot get little profit on it? It means that the cost of bringing the cargo has been defeated because you don’t have control of expenses and this is bad”
“It is an additional cost of clearing the cargo for the shipper and this would eventually be thrown on the open market, God help you if these goods are not already in the market because you won’t be able to sell it.”
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