By Frank Odinukaeze
The deployment of scanners at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa has suffered set back following sharp practices of the members of staff of APM Terminal and the corporate entity to meet its projected target of scanning 800 containers per day .
The situation is made worse through alleged dubious and multiple charges, which slow down the pace of scanning and deliberate effort to force demurrage payments on freight agents.
National Chairman of NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko,stated this last week at a press briefing in Lagos.
He said the terminal operators all gave assurances that they had the capacity to handle the scanners, even promising to scan at least 800 containers in a day ,but today they could hardly scan 50 containers.
“In the meeting in Abuja, they asked the terminal operators if they had the capacity to manage the scanners and they all said, ‘yes’. They said they had capacity for 800 containers a day. But what we have today is that they can hardly scan up to 50 containers a day,” he lamented.
Tanko said the reintroduction of scanners was as a result of security challenges in the country. He noted that one scanner was not enough to meet the demands at the terminals.
He warned that if by Monday this week there was no significant changes or improvement in the services at the APM Terminal they would have no choice but to withdraw their services in protest of poor services, extortion,bribery and deliberate acts to force demurrage on the agents
In a written petition titled-Re: ‘Scanning: Undue Delays and Multiple Charges’ addressed to the National Security Adviser(NSA), Three Arms Zone ,National Assembly, made available to the press, NAGAFF itemised the challenges the members of the association have been encountering following the reintroduction of scanning.
The petition reads in part:” We note the recent reintroduction of scanning machines in the clearing process, it is welcome development. However, it has turned into a nightmare for our teeming members .We have evidence of immense sabotage by the APMT”
The petition stated that the inability of the APMT to carry out scanning effectively was never owing to lack of capacity, because the scanning machine can handle over three hundred containers in less than eight hours.
“But we believe that it is a management strategy to collect more money in demurrage charges .
For personal gains, an extortion ring exists between the scanning manager ,the plant driver as well as the truck driver. We we pay not less than N50,000 as bribe for our containers to be loaded for scanning.
We recall several incidents of container broaches in connivance with criminals involving import of Tramadol using their(APMT) company ambulance.Several containers of the illicit drugs were also traced to their members of staff”
The petition which was signed by the National Chairman of the100% Compliance Team,Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko,and copied the Area Comptroller,Apapa Port and the Managing Director,APMT,stated, “If the APMT is desirous of facilitating trade ,they would live up to their boast of having the capacity months before the arrival of the machines “
Tanko lamented the stress, both financial and emotional, that freight agents go through in the event the container fails scanning.
His words,” If your container fails the scanning test,you are compelled to make another payment for physical examination. This takes days, if not weeks for your box to be positioned. If you are lucky to have completed your release process, you are yet again compelled to pay for loading”.
He affirmed that these ludicrous measures have brought a lot of stress and needles expenses,’On our teeming members.”
Therefore, to find proactive measures towards ameliorating this ugly situation, NAGAFF recommends the following suggestions:”We write our Terminal Delivery Order(TDO), and take the containers to the scanning site, using our own trucks. If it is “Suspect”, it is taken to the platform for physical examination from where it is released and the container exits the port.
However, if it is marked “Seizure”,it is immediately taken to Enforcement. In order to avoid this ,we encourage our members to do honest declaration,that way the acute short comings being experienced will be overcome”
Tanko expressed optimism that the suggestions the team has proffered will play a major role in restoring confidence and mutual business relationship between both parties