•Freight Forwarders demand #EndCustomsExtortion
•Customs, NIMASA, others lose revenue
As the disruptions in business and social activities across the country occasioned by the EndSARS protests continues, PAULOGBUOKIRI reports that the Nigeria port industry is one of the worst hit as it loses over N200 billion in one week, even as the week-long inactivity is set to exacerbate cargo congestion in the Lagos ports
Activities at the Lagos ports have remained paralysed since Monday this week even as the #EndSARS protests took a new dimension in Lagos on Tuesday.
Consequently, key revenue agencies of government in the ports, particularly the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC); not excluding the Terminal Operators, Shipping Companies and Freight Forwarders and other service providers in the ports have lost over N200 billion from Monday till date.
The volume of transactions that take place in the Nigerian seaports daily according to experts is over N50 billion.
The Nigeria Customs Service the main revenue agency of government in the industry is estimated to have lost over N20 billion revenue, NIMASA lost about N4 billion while the NPA has lost over N6 billion in revenue, even as it’s over N15 billion multi-story headquarters complex including over N10 billion movable properties in the complex at Marina, Lagos Island were consumed by fire believed to have set by hoodlums on Wednesday morning, an aftermath of the massacre of peaceful protesters by soldiers and other security operatives at the Lekki Toll Plaza on Lagos Island.
Meanwhile, the losses suffered by the Terminal Operators and Shipping Companies are put at several billions of naira. Also not left out were the freight forwarders, transporters including handlers who lost billions of naira in the one week of inactivity in the Lagos ports.
This is coming as the President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero has expressed deep fear that the port might experience more serious congestion this year end as a result of the one week of inactivity.
He said: “The port is a transit point for goods, when goods already discharged from the ships did not leave the port for up to one week to make way for incoming ones; it means that the vessels will start to queue up at the anchorage causing congestion and accumulation of demurrages.
“We are getting to the end of the year when you record large volume of imports coming in. Any disruption like this would only worsen the problem we already have on ground,” he said. In a similar development, Customs Brokers on Tuesday at the Tin Can Island protested what they described as extortion by operatives of the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The protesters, who gathered in front of the Customs Processing Unit (CPC) of the Tin Can Island (TCIP) Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, had several placards with inscriptions like: “#End FOU extortion”, “#End blocking Marine Police blocking our containers” and “#End strike force”, among others.
An Executive member of the Tin Can Island Port chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who spoke to Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity, wondered why a top official of the NCS will release their consignments from the port and a junior official of the service will intercept it at Mile 2?
“We will continue the protest until this extortion and unfair treatment is stopped,” he vowed.
Addressing the protesters, the Customs Area Controller of TCIP Command, Musa Abdullahi urged them to put their complaints in writing, so that it could be treated officially.
The Spokesman of Command, Tony Ejesieme urged the protesters to be careful so that hoodlums don’t hijack their legitimate protest.
Meanwhile, as Nigerians pray that normalcy returns so that economic activities could resume, officials at the headquarters of NPA are in chagrin over where they will report to work as their offices were destroyed in the fire that razed down the complex on Wednesday.
Some of the officers, who spoke to Sunday Telegraph, lamented that nobody has reached them or given them any directives on what do when work resumes.
They did not want their names published as they were not authorised to speak on the matter. Several calls to the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, Engr. Jatto Adams were not responded to