Freight forwarders practicing at the Tin Can Island Port area have lampooned the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) for providing inadequate attention to port activities at Tin Can.
A joint team of freight forwarders from the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) made this statement yesterday, during a press briefing on the shambolic state of the port access roads.
The joint team lead by the Chairman, ANLCA Tin Can Chapter, Mr. Olusegun Oduntan and Chairman, NAGAFF Tin Can Chapter, Chief Azubuike Ekweozor, lamented that there is just one entry and exit point for cargoes at the Tin Can Island Port.
Noting that the ongoing road construction has seen the Mile 2 – Tin Can Island Port access route closed, the freight forwarders urged the government to swiftly open alternative routes to enable to expedite cargo evacuation and return of empty containers.
As the festive season draws near, the freight agents stressed that the menace of congestion may be heightened if the port access situation is left unattended.
Six terminals clustered around the Tin Can Island Port have been forced to make use of a single lane both for import and export.
Speaking with journalists during the joint operation carried out yesterday to decongest the access roads, the Chairman of Tin Can Chapter of ANLCA lampooned the port regulatory agencies for paying lip service to the numerous challenges inhibiting cargo evacuation at Tin Can Island Port.
Oduntan said that after speaking with the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, the Taskforce Chairman assured that he would create a particular exit for the trapped cargoes to leave the port.
“Our coming out today is to identify the problems and we have told the terminal operators and the Presidential Task Team about our findings. Today is the first time I would see Shippers Council staff in the terminal, they do not have a desk inside the terminal, they only stroll in and out whenever they like, yet they came and lock TICT when they said the terminal erred. Are they not supposed to be monitoring vessels coming in and out of the port?
“Vessels come into the port with 1,000 containers and they leave with 200, this is why MSC Shipping can afford to turn trucks into their holding bay, is Shippers Council bigger than the federal government that created it and appointed somebody to head it?” he queried.
Oduntan also urged the Federal Government to expedite the process of scrapping container deposit, adding that the insurance alternative proposed by Shippers Council would be a better strategy.
“As soon as container deposit is scrapped, over 50 percent on the containers and trucks causing the gridlock on port access roads would be gone,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of NAGAFF at Tin Can Port, Chief Azubuike Ekweozor lamented that NPA officials collect monies from trucks before allowing them access into the ports.
Ekweozor posited that the problem of extorting was also a factor responsible for the unending traffic gridlock at the port environment.
While expressing delight at the level of sanity and orderliness the joint team of freight forwarders were able to create during their exercise, he charged NPA and Police officers to step up to their mandate as the freight forwarders’ intervention was only a temporary one.
His words: “This is only an ad hoc arrangement and it cannot be sustained. We are freight agents and cargo movers, not traffic wardens. What we have done today is a demonstration of the fact that a lot of the problems in this Tin Can Island Port area is human made.”