Home News Regulatory non-compliance: Shippers’ council to clear 616 trapped containers from Lagos ports

Regulatory non-compliance: Shippers’ council to clear 616 trapped containers from Lagos ports

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By Chris Udochukwu

Worried by the growing number of abandoned export containers due to non-compliance with regulatory guidelines,
the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said it is taking immediate measures to remove 616 long-standing export containers trapped in Lagos ports.

The Executive Secretary, NSC, Pius Akutah1, said this when his team visited the APM Terminal Complex in Apapa, Lagos, on Friday.

Mr Akutah said there were plans to engage stakeholders to address the issue while emphasising the importance of promoting ease of documentation for exporters.

He stated, “The council needs to quickly bring the service providers, regulators, government agencies and exporters together on one table to discuss and discover where the problem lies. We would also take up issues of awareness creation to sensitise exporters on how to comply with the export procedure. NSC will work towards promoting ease of documentation by exporters. The council needs to do that quickly because the present situation is not helping the economy, especially as the government is trying to promote exports to earn scarce dollars.’’

Mr Akutah emphasised the need to put a mechanism in place to stop export containers that had not completed the necessary documentation from entering the port to avoid the pilling of overtime cargo.

Earlier, Government Relations Manager at APM Terminals, Kayode Daniel, said that 1,940 containers had been in Apapa Port between zero day and 10 days, adding that 1,524 containers had stayed between 11 days and 20 days.

Mr Daniel said that 757 containers stayed between 21 days and 30 days, while 616 stayed between 31 days and over two years, noting that this classified them as abandoned export containers.

He said that APM Terminals had been pushing for the evacuation of the trapped export containers and had received a commitment from shipping lines.

According to him, these include Maersk, CMA, CGA and Zim to move about 2,752 export containers out of the port in the next five days.

Mr Daniel said that the inability of some exporters to complete the processes required for export containers to leave the port was creating operational bottlenecks for the terminal operator.

This, he noted, was by way of multiple handling of export containers.

Mr Daniel said that exporters had been complaining of ineffective export procedures.

“The export procedures are not moving fast; not knowing the technicalities of their action or inaction because customs will not authorise the loading of an export without proper documentation. There is an established process that is clearly defined by government agencies, but some exporters are not complying with it strictly,” he added.

The terminal manager, APM Terminals, Steen Knudsen, said that technically, export containers are not supposed to stay within the port terminal for more than seven days, adding that all shipping lines come to Apapa on a weekly frequency.

Mr Knudsen said that the terminal operator could not mandate the shipping line to load the container as it was an arrangement strictly between the exporter, customs and the shipping line.

According to him, most of these export containers that arrive at the port were ‘good to go’ but it is only when they get to the port that customs and other authorities will discover some missing elements.

He said that discovering the missing element by officials make the shipping line unable to load the containers.

Mr Knudsen said that the service providers, Shippers Council, Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority and other players need to work together to improve the export process in Nigerian ports.

Also contributing, the General Manager Legal of APM terminal, Chinenye Deinde, said there was a need to critically examine the export value chain to identify the source of the problem.

She said that the clearance needed for export was not only regulatory by the government, adding that shippers also need to pay the freight for the shipping line to lift the container.

Mrs Deinde said that the business agreement that the exporter enters into with the shipping line made it mandatory for the shipping company to lift the export boxes if only the exporter complies with the trade guidelines.


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