Freight forwarders, under the aegis of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100% Compliance Team, have queried the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and AP Moller Terminal Apapa for depriving bonded terminals of requisite cargoes.
This was one of the conclusions from the inspection of bonded terminals around the Abuleosun area in Lagos by the National Coordinator, of the NAGAFF Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, yesterday.
During the tour, the Task Team engaged the leadership of GMT Terminal which has a spacious facility to handle about 5,000 containers, multiple Reach Stackers, and cranes, among other equipment lying fallow without any container received in over five months.
Speaking with journalists on the sidelines, Tanko said; “Despite the pressure at Apapa port and complaints about congestion, we have discovered that some terminals are abandoned like the GMT Terminal. There is no single container at the terminal because according to the managers of the bonded terminal, APMT refused to send containers to the bonded terminal.”
“Another concern is that the investor was encouraged to spend monies in setting up such a huge facility that can take over 5,000 containers yet there is no activity going on there. Since they were licensed by Customs, why are they being deprived of containers whereas in Apapa the problem is about congestion.”
Tanko, however, noted that his team would discuss with the Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command and equally engage the managers of APMT Apapa to find out if there are other covert issues preventing the use of bonded terminals like GMT.
Also speaking, the General Manager, of GMT Bonded and Offdock Terminals, Mr. Waseem Rasheed affirmed that the bonded terminal is truly under the Apapa Customs Command, which has the APMT as its major terminal operator.
“It’s about the import volumes in Nigeria, which are currently running low and impacting the bonded terminals that have invested a lot of money on the infrastructure.
“Since the ports are not congested due to the reduction in import volumes, thus ports are not transferring containers to Bonded terminals.
“However, we anticipate an increase in volumes in the country in the near future and we are ready to join hands in serving the importers with our fully equipped terminal for timely transfers, clearance and delivery.
Meanwhile, he expressed genuine optimism that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) which encouraged investments in bonded terminal operations years ago will create a business environment that would see bonded terminal operations thrive.
At the SAPID, another bonded terminal, also at Abuleosun, Tanko lamented the unhealthy work environment characterized by intense heat as freight forwarders are kept under heat-absorbing roofing sheets, leading to extremely hot conditions.
The NAGAFF Team
“We are going to officially send a letter to SAPID on this issue of unpalatable work environment. During our engagement with the Deputy Controller at the facility, he claimed that even among the Customs offices only his office has a functional air conditioner. I want to believe that SAPID is ready for bonded terminal operations and if that is the case, they should have an environment conducive for business,” Tanko said.
According to him, the letter to SAPID on its unacceptable work environment will be sent to the terminal today and will specify a timeline to address the issue or face strike actions and protests from freight agents.
The task team also visited the Classic bonded terminal where the operators lamented that activities of Area Boys affiliated with the Local Government have limited the patronage of the facility as trucks exiting the bonded terminal are being forced to pay unreceipted levies.