More details have emerged on why the leadership of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) yesterday, announced duty Waiver valued at about N1.5bn on stranded Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) containers.
It would be recalled that the containers had been at the ports for years and the long stay has attracted unprecedented demurrage, but the terminal operators at Nigeria’s seaports waived N1.5 billion on the 500 containers so that they can be used to beef up power stability in Nigeria.
STOAN’s spokesman, Bolaji Akinola said in an interview that, “We are not unmindful of the fact that electricity is the most important commodity for national development. Stable electric power supply is an empowerment and an enabler for people to work from the domestic level and the cottage industries, through the small-scale and medium industries to employment in the large-scale manufacturing complexes.
“We took this bold step in support of the government’s effort to ensure steady power supply and accelerate economic development. In April 2016, the office of the Vice President set up a committee comprising of the Ministers of Finance, Transport, Power, Works and Housing, along with the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service to look into the stranded power equipment containers in the ports. “As a result, terminal operators and shipping lines were invited to a meeting on April 5, 2016 at the office of the Minister of Power, Works & Housing. “We agreed at the meeting to a 50 percent storage waiver ending April 30th 2016 for the power projects while the shipping lines agreed to 75 per cent waiver on demurrage.
“The government however could not make payments for the containers and storage continued to accrue and then, we were called again to a meeting on 1st September 2016. Because we are committed to the well being of Nigeria and Nigerians, we still went ahead to honour the April 2016 agreement. The implication of this was that we had to waive additional charges that accrued as storage over another one year period from April 2016 to when payment was made in March 2017”.
It was on record earlier in the year that the federal government had confirmed in January 2017, that it had taken delivery of the 500 power equipment containers from the port. The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, made the announcement while receiving a 20-year Transmission Expansion Master Plan presented by the interim managing director of TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed, in Abuja.
However, analysts are beginning to query why TCN, a government owned company could not pay what private business operators had been paying when the government is keen in pursuing tax evaders.