By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has reopened the Clarion bonded terminal following the intervention of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
The bonded terminal was sealed on June 11, 2020 by the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Customs Command for what was described as illegal operations but reopened, last week, Friday.
Speaking with journalists on the development, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello said that he discussed with the Customs Zonal Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie who directed the reopening.
Bello was speaking when executives of Clarion Shipping visited NSC headquarters to express gratitude for the Council’s role in reopening the bonded terminal.
According to Bello, the Council monitored the process which he described as an administrative glitch that shouldn’t have happened at all.
His words: “Irrespective of which Command the bonded terminal was under, the issue could have been resolved without sealing. This shouldn’t have happened in the first instance. I know this is an administrative issue with the Customs, but it shouldn’t have been allowed to linger for so long. Three weeks closure of any company is a disaster. If Shippers’ Council seals an office, we ensure it doesn’t last for more than two days because of the economic losses.”
“However, you don’t have to thank us for intervening because we were prompted by shippers and other stakeholders who had their cargoes trapped. Some terminals who contracted the cargoes to the bonded terminal also ran to us to make complaints. Nigerian importers are running out of business because of the tough economic situation and we don’t need such sealing up of premises at such critical time.”
The NSC boss also assured that he had initiated talks with the leadership of Customs so that there would be an alignment of procedures because the company is licensed by Customs.
“There are some third party rights that supersedes such action and Customs usually consult Shippers’ Council before such sealing. We weren’t consulted this time”, Bello added.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Clarion Shipping West Africa Limited, Mrs. Ifeoma Eloka described the closing of Clarion bonded terminal as unbelievable.
Narrating the ordeal, she said, “We never bothered the first day as the issue started on June 11th. We arrived the premises around 5am to meet Customs enforcement officers from Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) placing a seal on the gate. However, I want to appreciate the management of Customs as well as Shippers’ Council for delving into the matter and resolving it.”
Eloka stated that the company’s model is to enhance trade facilitation, noting that the traffic congestion on the port access roads have been a major impediment to the operations of the bonded terminal.
“100 percent of the cargoes at the terminal are transferred via barges as a result of the challenges on the port access roads. We also connected via barges to our terminal at Mile 2. That was what APMT and Maersk Line saw and decided to partner with us,” she said.