By Ajibola Abayomi
June 27, 2018.
APM Terminals, Port concessionaire and terminal operator at Apapa Container Terminal has been accused of causing cargo clearance delay.
According to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the terminal operator was frustrating government’s Ease of Doing Business policy.
Apart from the customs, other stakeholders also accused the port operator of delayed positioning of containers at the access gate into the examination area.
Musa Jibrin, Customs Area Controller of Apapa Command blamed the company for working with only one forklift at the examination area where about 200 containers are to be examined daily.
The Controller, who expressed shock over a recent media report blaming customs for slowing pace of cargo clearance, also added that the company does not have adequate manpower on the ground to prosecute the volume of job in the terminal.
He said his command was ready to effect prompt release of cargo within 4 hours if all documentation were perfected within the traders zone.
During the assessment visit, the terminal which was locked as at 10am when examination was supposed to begin, had over 30 customs officers locked outside and was opened by 10:25am when containers were still being positioned.
Rufai Alao, a Deputy Comptroller in charge of the terminal said delays in opening was a usual character of the terminal operator.
He noted that despite gaining entrance into the terminal, customs officers were always forced to wait for other government agencies who were not always ready for joint examination on time.
He also blamed the company for not providing shuttle vehicles to convey Customs officers from the gate of the port to the scanner site where they are not allowed to drive through.
Alao also accused the company of not providing a canopy or make shift shelters for prevention of rains and sun heat.
According to him, several letters written by the customs to the company to address issues affecting smooth port operations at the terminal were unattended to.
Hong Samuel Ikujare of Nigeria Agricultural Qurantine Service and Idris Inuwa Maikano of National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) who arrived late blamed their lateness on APMT daily delayed resumption.
They complained that the company always failed to meet the 10am resumption time. David Ikeji,a freight forwarder added that his colleagues noted that timely cargo clearance from APM Termnals was a challenge.
Spokesman for Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah said the visit to the terminal was to appraise the true situation after reading the earlier misleading media reports concerning examination of containers at the ports.
An official of APMT who declined comment however said his company would work to improve on quality of service delivery,