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President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi has given more reasons why the campaign to transfer long-standing (overtime) containers to off-dock facilities especially the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal (IKLT) in Lagos is counterproductive considering the high level lull in port business.
Analysts had maintained that port business started to drop since the federal government handed down the ban on forex access for the importation of selected 41 items.
According to him, calling on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to transfer containers from the main port to IKLT is a negative thinking as there is “ample space in the main ports”.
“Congestion in the terminals has always been cited as the reason for the transfer of containers but the present economic downturn has resulted in less than 40 per cent yard occupancy for most terminal operators; effectively undermining the reason to transfer overtime cargoes to Ikorodu,” he said.
He added that due to massive shock that hit the maritime sector last year traced to forex crisis and government’s policy inconsistency, there has been a sharp decline in cargo volume and the scenario caused banks and business services providers surrounding the ports to close down at the ports.
“In fact, today, driving round Apapa, one is tempted to describe the town as ghost city as several buildings are in keys and quiet due to relocation to other areas or business collapse.
He said “A recent statement by the Senate in November 2016 highlighted the fact that the containers that have already been transferred to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal have been abandoned with goods worth billions of naira rotting away daily; alluding to the fact that inadequate maintenance measures exist for the containers there. Therefore, moving even more containers will result in a sharper decline in the condition of containers and cargoes, and lead to wastage.”
NIIA President also noted that moving overtime containers can also be seen as a means to boycott terminal operational procedures, as container owners will look to avoid paying accrued charges but rather intercept or obtain their cargoes at reduced or no cost at all .
He argued further that the bid to transfer overtime cargoes to Ikorodu will only result in huge additional cost burden to government given that the logistics cost of moving the containers from various terminals will be borne by the NPA.
“This move will result in additional handling of containers, which come with increased cost of doing business for terminal operators; as well as likely claims from damages from handling during such transfers.
“There exists also the risk of loss of cargo to the consignee/importer due to allegations of diversion of cargo in transit from previous transfers and pilfering due to insecurity at Ikorodu terminal. The extra cost to be incurred to carry out the transfer can be avoided, especially in times like these when all sectors should be focused on saving, and not wasting public funds.
“Combined with the recession, this move will only serve to compound the woes of the already suffering maritime sector; it will not bring additional business or progress whatsoever,” Onyekazi said.