Following the congestion of cargoes at the Apapa and Tin-Can ports due to the state of the ports access roads, and plans by the organised labour to embark on another strike action come November 6, 2018, many importers with cargoes trapped inside the ports are currently confused due to another possible shutdown of port activities that comes with heavy demurrage payments.
It will be recalled that the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) had warned that another labour strike would be catastrophic on the ports because the system is yet to recover from the truckers strike action and organised labour warning strike action that rocked the ports in recent times.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, an importer, Mr Femi Olorunsogo, appealed to the Federal Government to ensure labour does not embark on another strike action that will see to the closure of the ports.
According to Mr Femi Olorunsogo, “Many containers are trapped inside the ports and their owners are paying heavily on storage charges because the roads leading to the ports are blocked by a long queue of trucks trying to either leave or enter the ports.
“The situation has been worsened by the closure of one section of the Ijora bridge, thereby forcing everybody to use the one available section of the bridge to either exit or enter the port area.
“My containers are stuck inside one of the terminals at the Tin-Can Island port. I am done with examination, but cannot take my containers out of the port because the truck that is supposed to come and lift my containers cannot access the port. The situation is worsened by the fact that for every extra day that my two containers stay inside the port terminal, I pay storage charges.
“Now, there is news that the organised labour wants to embark on another strike action come next week Tuesday (November 6), because government is yet to meet them on their terms. I am confused because I don’t know what to do to make sure my containers beat the new strike date.
“I wish there are alternative means of cargo evacuation at the ports, but there are none aside trucks; and the trucks that I have contacted to help me lift my containers cannot access the ports because there is no road. Everywhere is blocked.”
In the words of another importer, Felix Nwokoji, “If I had known this is the quagmire I will be facing to take my containers out of the ports, maybe I would have used alternative neighbouring ports. With the congestion at the ports due to the fact that containers cannot exit the ports as at when due, the storage charges keep piling up every day.
“Some of my colleagues are paying through their noses to bring in trucks through one-way at the dead of the night to evacuate their cargoes, but the money the security guys are demanding for is outrageous. Apapa at night is another story entirely. Long queue of trucks that have paid around N100,000 enter the ports through one-way to lift containers.
“No wonder truckers now demand around N800,000 to lift containers out of the ports. Money to be paid to security operatives as bribes at night is already embedded in the N800,000 haulage rate. With another strike action looming, I might be left with no other choice than to settle the security guys.”
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