• Firms deny allegation
Foreign shipping companies operating at Lagos Ports have been accused of sabotaging the Federal Government’s efforts at creating ease of doing business at the seaport, with many of them operating non-functional holding bays.
A holding bay is a parking space reserved for containers, trucks, tankers or articulated vehicles to stay while waiting for call up at the port.
Stakeholders at the second quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos, alleged that non functional holding bays paraded by the shipping firms is responsible for the crisis currently experienced on ports access roads, as empty containers have to be brought back into the port.
Operators, including the clearing agents, freight forwarders and truck owners alleged that the shipping firms are ripping them off deliberately because of funds being enjoyed from demurrage accumulated on delayed cargoes.
Although, the shipping firms at the meeting denied the allegation, the Managing Director, NPA, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, threatened to sanction the erring firms accordingly.
Bala-Usman, who was represented by the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Sekonte Davies, said the authority is planning to implement the call up system, whereby only vehicles that needed to lift cargo at the port would have access, but noted that lack of functional holding bay has been a major hindrance to the policy.
Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tincan Island Chapter, Segun Oduntan, alleged that the shipping firms are benefiting from the system and thereby sabotaging it in order to earn more demurrage.
A representative of the shipping lines, claimed that they have holding bays and they have been utilizing it in compliance with the NPA directive, adding that the menace caused by tanker drivers triggered the problem, as tank farm operators at Ibafo do not have holding bays.
It had been alleged that about 60 tank farms are contributing to the persistent gridlocks of trucks and articulated vehicles in Apapa area of Lagos.
Secretary, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Tincan/Apapa/Kirikiri Chapel, Godwin Ikeji, alleged that there is a cabal that is benefiting from the system, urging NPA to take holistic decision on the empty containers’ matter.