The haulage cost of moving containers from the Tin Can Island Port has increased from N1.2 million to N1.8 million in a week.
This is according to a report by ThisDay. The investigation, however, builds on the report issued by the Media Company last week, that the cost of shipping containers had risen by more than 1,000 per cent from about N100,000 to about N1.2 million.
The prevalent issue of congestion at the ports has negatively impacted on the shipping cost in the port, as cost of moving a container from the Tin Can Island Port increased sporadically by more than 50% in a week.
The fact behind the figures
In line with preliminary understanding of the situation, and on-premise investigation carried out at the port, it is plausible that both regulatory and infrastructural breakdowns play key roles in the gridlock and the sporadic increase in haulage costs at the port.
The Infrastructural breakdown in the country continues to pile up the misery in the economy and also at the ports, as transfer of containers by road remains a tough tussle, as existing road infrastructure continue to dilapidate.
The Managing Director of Port & Cargo Handling Services, Mr. John Jenkins, expressed frustration over the poor port access road – Mile 2/Tin Can Island, which has led to the near-collapse of cargo delivery. He said:
- “Transfer of containers by road is almost not in existence because the road is blocked and you can’t get containers out. The problem is the road. If the problem of the road is solved, the problem inside the port will be solved as well.”
On the regulatory breakdown, investigation at the port by ThisDay revealed that truck operators attributed the sporadic increase in the cost of haulage services at the Tin Can Port to extortion by security operators, including Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) security officials, police and the Presidential task team on Apapa gridlock, as the operators pay more than N250,000 per truck to gain access to the port.
To emphasize on this issue, The Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, described the situation at the ports as confusing and dispiriting. He disclosed that business is still ongoing, but the Presidential task team at the port has refused to leave because they are benefiting from the chaos.
He disclosed that the Presidential task team had formed a cartel with the police and NPA officials to set up shops to collect bribes and determine who enters.
Mr. Ojo Akintoye, a Clearing Agent operating at the Tin Can Island Port, disclosed there are more than four roadblocks between Tin Can Island Port First and Second Gates set up by the Presidential task team, the police and NPA officials, where each truck is expected to bribe officials before being allowed passage into the port. He said:
- “The extortion by NPA (security officials) and other security agencies who claim to be controlling traffic on the road is the cause of the impediment we are experiencing daily along the port access road.”
Also commenting on the issue of extortion by the Presidential Task Team and other security operatives is Prince Kayode Farinto, the National Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who called the team a money-making machine and supported its disbandment.
He disclosed that clearing agents lose an average of N300 million weekly to illegal collection by NPA security officials, the police and members of the Presidential Task Team, adding that to enter the port, truckers pay as high as N280,000 to security operatives on the road.
In the same manner, the House of Representatives asked the federal government to disband the Presidential Task Team, stressing that it has outlived its usefulness and is allegedly participating in extortion and contributing to the congestion of the Lagos ports.
The lawmakers had also urged government and other security agencies to immediately end extortion of truck drivers. Stating that the police and the Presidential Task Force remain the major cause of unending gridlock along the port access roads, with stakeholders such as importers, clearing agents and truck owners alleging that they are forced to pay as much as N250,000 to N280,000 per truck for entries and exits to the ports.
The reaction of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, at the budget defence session before the Senate Committee on Marine Transport yesterday, disclosed that the agency, based on the ongoing arrangement with the Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA), was evolving a permanent solution to the gridlock on roads leading to the ports in Lagos.
She disclosed that Trucks Park had been established in Orile, Lagos, and the park will serve as call up centre for any truck waiting to evacuate goods at the ports and also facilitate the implementation of the electronic call-up system which had been put in place for the evacuation of goods by the Port Authority for trucks accessing the ports.
What you should know
- According to report, no fewer than 40 ships calling at the Tin Can Island Port are stranded at anchorage due to lack of space to discharge new cargoes at terminals in the port, as shipments from the port have been constrained by multiple toll points mounted by security operatives including men of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) security department, the Nigeria police, Nigerian Army and officials of the Presidential Task Team.
- This situation continues to pile up the gridlock at the port, and thus affecting the port operation as cargo delivery continues to slow down, leading to astronomical rise in haulage and shipping cost, thereby increasing inflationary pressures in the country.
- However, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has directed all its members in Eastern ports to commence an indefinite strike, in protest over the retrenchment of 500 workers by the Management of Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) Nigeria Limited and the Associated Maritime Services (AMS) Limited.
- The Union reiterated that the strike would last until the management of INTELS and AMS withdraw the sack letters issued to their members and resume negotiations with the unions.
- It also stated that the strike would not be called off until there is a guarantee from the management of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) that security operatives will no longer be used to deal with or settle industrial relations issues in the sector.
- In a statement signed by the Secretary-General of MWUN, Mr. Felix Akingboye, the union urged the federal government to investigate the deployment of armed security operatives to disrupt a peaceful gathering of workers. It called for sanctions against those who brought the security operatives that brutalised, intimidated and harassed its members.