Freight Forwarders Lament Extortion By Security Agents At Tin Can Port Environs
Freight agents practising at Tin Can Island Port have lamented over severe fiscal pangs from continuous extortion by security agents in and around the port environment.
Despite the major impediment to port activities at Tin Can being the ongoing construction which hinders access, findings by MMS Plus correspondent showed that the extortion on the port corridors also persist.
Our correspondent gathered that these unreceipted payments usually paid by truck drivers on the road affects importers, consequently increasing the prices of goods in the Nigerian market.
Speaking with MMS Plus last week, Mr. Babatunde Odukoya, a freight agent at Tin Can port, said “We have major challenges with Customs in releasing our jobs. They will always say it’s blocked. There is CIU alert, Evaluation alert, and you keep hearing different things. Nevertheless, after surmounting these hurdles to bring out the container, it is intercepted again by Customs on the port access roads.”
“Just imagine the distance between the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) usually stationed at Liverpool and the seaport. You also find FOU along the Coconut bridge or at Sunrise bus stop. They’ll be frustrating importers with new demands for cargoes already cleared at the port by their colleagues. Is it not the same Custom officers that cleared cleared us, and the worst part of it is the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which is also involved.”
He condemned the corrupt tendencies of security agencies who extort on the port access roads, even as he appealed to the Federal Government to find lasting solutions regarding charges from NPA and other security agencies on the truck drivers, importers and freight agents.
He said: “What they’re doing to truck drivers is beyond words and without truck drivers we cannot load our containers. They’re useful to the freight agents and to the logistics chain. The money these security agents are collecting on the road is too much. Nigerian Army is involved, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Police, among others. Just from FATGBEMS at Mile 2 to Coconut bridge, they’re charging a truck up to N300, 000 and at the end, agents and importers bear the burden. Government should please look into it.”
Similarly, Mr Bayo Olajuwon, also a freight agent, lamented that even an agent has legitimate goods and the documents are genuine, he or she would still have to tip Custom officers for ease of operations.
According to him, Customs officers at Tin Can Island Port would be nonchalant about placing containers for examination until they are given tips by freight agents.
His words: “If you book for examination today, it might take up to 3 to 5 days to do that examination. Sometimes, I’ll have to tip them to find it for me or I find it myself, but such delays mean that demurrage is counting.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, the President of Igbo Maritime Practitioners in Nigeria, ASIMPIN, Tin Can Island Chapter, Chief Chales Akeze Igbokei, stressed that another major challenge was the enormous charges of the shipping companies and terminals as a result of factors caused by the bad port access roads.
He revealed that to load a trailer now takes up 5 days to come out of the port due to congestion and bad road, adding that the cost, “to move a container from the Tin Can Island Port to Ladipo now costs about N1.2 million”