…. threatens withdrawal of service
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100 percent Compliance Team has accused APM Terminals management of deliberately sabotaging scanning operations at the Apapa port by unnecessarily delaying positioning of containers thereby resulting in multiple charges and attendant demurrage.
Consequently, the freight forwarders have threatened to withdraw services from the port by Monday 24th October if nothing is done to address the situation.
Addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, Chairman of the Compliance Team, Ibrahim Tanko, who commended the Customs management for procuring and ensuring the scanners are put to use however, lamented delays agents are experiencing in scanning their containers due to the failure of APM Terminals to fully utilize the scanning machine.
He said while the scanner has capacity to scan 300 containers per day, APM Terminals currently scan on the average 50 containers per day.
Tanko alleged that the management of APM Terminals is frustrating the scanning process in an attempt to collect more money in demurrage charges.
According to him, where APMT is unable to position a container for scanning already booked, all accruing demurrage should not be charged until the container is positioned.
He said, “The procurement of the scanners is a welcome development that would facilitate trade and improve customs revenue but here we are today, we cannot scan 50 containers in a day.
“At the meeting we had in Abuja, they asked all the terminal operators their capacity and APM Terminals said they can even scan up to 800 containers per day. That was the promise they gave the government in Abuja but here we are today, APMT cannot scan 50 containers per day. Sometimes they struggle to scan between 70 or 80.
“For personal gains, an extortion ring exists between the scanning manager, the plant manager and the truck driver where we pay not less than N50, 000 as bribe for our containers to be loaded for scanning.
“I believe they are doing it for their own interest because if your declaration enters scan, you need to go and book for scanning and make payment for all terminal and shipping charges.
“When you book, by right, they are supposed to go and pick your container, bring it to the scanner and scan it. If the container enters suspect, you will book for positioning of container for physical examination but if it did not enter suspect, you will now go ahead for release.
“But in this case, when you book, you will spend another three weeks before they will position it. If a container waits for up to a month to be scanned, then the intention of facilitating trade has been defeated. We are bearing the brunt and may no longer contain the restiveness brewing among our members.
“In my own case, I have 10 containers and for the past three weeks, I have not been able to carry one. So, the question is who is going to pay the demurrage that has accrued? If they know they can’t meet up with up the demand, they should have been able to waive the demurrage after we book for scanning but we are paying and nobody is here to help us. And at the end of the day, the charges go back to the masses.
“So, it is either they don’t have the capacity and are just lying to the government or they have the capacity but they don’t want the scanning machines to work.”
To address the situation, Tanko recommended that agents be allowed to write their Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) and take the containers to the scanning site using their own trucks.
According to him, “If it (container) is suspect, it should be taken to the platform for physical examination from where it is released and the container exit the port but if it is marked seizure, it should be immediately taken to enforcement. That is why we encourage honest declaration. That way the acute shortcomings being experienced will be overcome.”