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Wharf rats return, steal export cargoes worth N500m at Lagos Ports

Lagos, Nigeria: entrance to the RoRo port - Nigerian Ports Authority - photo by A.Bartel
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Abiola Seun      |     

Nigerian exporters have lost a whopping N500million to activities of wharf rats who pilfer export cargoes.

After concession of the nation’s seaports in 2006 by the administration of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, activities of wharf-rats were curbed as concessionaires took over security of both import and export cargoes.

But, recently, the activity of the export pilfering syndicates have reached a crescendo, thereby undermining the current government’s efforts of economic diversification from crude oil.

According to investigation, wharf rats had pilfered  export cargo belonging to Global Enterprise. The export cargo was brought intact to the Apapa port but between the time the goods arrived at the port and when it was loaded on board the vessel, a sizeable quantity has been stolen.

Also, a second consignment of four units of 20 feet containers of Sesame Seed that was to be shipped to Dubai was also pilfered from a warehouse around Coconut area of Lagos.

Investigation showed that the exporter lost about N12.04 million of the N42.6 million worth of consignments as 430 out of the 1520 bags got missing. Each bag is worth N28,000.

The latest was the stealing of a 40-foot container of cocoa meant for export to the United States of America, USA.

Investigation revealed that late last year, the incident caused the exporter  a loss of about N55 million.

The 40-foot container of cocoa (comprising 410 bags) was loaded around Coconut area of Lagos on December 17th, 2020 but the exporter’s agent was unable to locate the consignment almost a month after.

The matter was reported to the Roll-on – Roll-off, (RoRo) Port police Command which traced the owner of the truck to Ibadan. On arrest, the truck owner told the police that he sold the truck around March last year.

The police went after the buyer who confirmed that he actually bought the truck which he dismantled. He, however, told the police investigation team that someone came to collect the plate number of the said truck for “an operation.”

When arrested, the man who took the plate number confirmed that they were responsible for stealing the container which was taken to Shagamu, Ogun State, where they sold the consignment before dismantling the truck with which the goods were transported from the warehouse.

When contacted, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Hassan Bello, said that the Council is working on a bill in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation, (Bill of Carriage) that would lead to the regulation of haulage business in the country.

According to him, “Exporters must be very careful in the sense that they should know who they entrust their cargo on. They should have a contract with them. I know because access to the port has become a problem, which we hope to see ending around March this year” he noted.

When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer,( DPO) of RoRo Police Station, Mike Njoku, said that the case has been transferred out of the station.

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