APM Terminals, operators of the largest container port in Apapa have been accused of frustrating the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government by not stemming of containers to Lilypond Ijora as a way of reducing congestion caused by the gridlock.
A leading freight forwarder and Chairman of the Joint Committee of Clearing and Forwarding agents, Mr. Olufemi Olabanji said the terminal operator who is also in charge of the Ijora terminal believes in making profits from the situation through charges of demurrage (penalties) paid per day containers are not cleared from the port.
Olabanji accused the company of refusal to maximize the use of rail line linking Apapa to Lilypond which can fasten the clearance of goods where owners of imported consignments can take their cargoes with ease without necessarily traveling through the difficult traffic in Apapa.
He also accused the company of using the rail line to unlawfully move containers to a part of Ijora without using the terminal while adding that most of such container movements which are done at night, do not have customs escort .
He described the situation as suspicious and capable of causing loss of revenue and negative security implication.
”Our main challenge is that they are not stemming containers to us. We were asked to go out to market the terminal and we did. I monitored them recently up to 12 midnight. They are using train to bring containers to Ijora to load on trucks without using the terminal.
”Why cant they do it through the genuine and fair process in a transparent manner? They will just pass by and load the containers on trucks. This ugly development is scaring importers away.”
”What they are doing is illegal and we are going to resist it. Even containers on fast track should be under customs escort. But its not so. I suspect strongly that some of these containers are taken to the importers houses without due process”
”Apapa can only deliver 200 containers daily but presently has over 2million containers to be exited . They make money from the delay while the economy suffers..
”APMT is not leaving the terminal for other people who are willing to use the terminal that is being made to idle away. Government revenue
”After bringing containers destined for lilypond, it takes between two and three months for the containers to be transferred. This delay is not helping the economy. For instance , if Apapa exits 200 containers daily and Lilypond which is Tin Can two Command exits 50 containers daily,that will be 250”
”Go to the terminals ,in Apapa, containers are staked in six layers
”It will mean more money for government and better trade facilitation that will improve the economy. The Nigeria Customs Service recently assigned 400 officers to Lilypond but I can tell you that these officers are most time idle,doing nothing when there are so much jobs to be done.
”The economy is dying, what is happening now is worse than Boko Haram economically. We are going backwards as a country and something needed to be done urgently to save it”
”The terminal manager is also incompetent to handle the terminal, he is insensitive to the situation on ground and does not communicate effectively with stakeholders to boost commercial activities in the place” Olabanji said.
Efforts to reach the spokesman of APMT, Austin Fischer, were unsuccessful as calls to his mobile line were not answered as at press time.
At a recent meeting with Assistant Controller General of Customs, Aminu Dahiru, who is Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone A, Olabanji sought the intervention of customs management into the issue saying that whatever revenue to be made from the transactions goes to the same government.