The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) recently approved the change of name of the Lillypond Terminal in Ijora to Tin-can Island Port 2 Area Command. In this report, TOLA ADENUBI examines why the move might fail. Excerpts
The change of name of the Lillypond Terminal to Tin-Can Island Port 2 Area Command was borne out of the move to improve the volume of cargoes that are stemmed there from the two major seaports terminals in Lagos, Apapa port and the Tin-Can Island Port.
In maritime parlance, stemming of cargoes occurs when a seaport terminal is filled with too many cargoes, thus some of the cargoes are taken to nearby off-dock/bonded terminals to be examined with full Customs presence. The cargoes stemmed to the off-dock facility will receive the same examination inspection that they will be subjected to at a seaport terminal. However, this only occurs when the main terminal located by the seaside is filled to capacity, thereby preventing congestion at the seaports.
In recent months, the case has not been the same as not enough cargoes have been stemmed to Lillypond Terminal from the main seaport terminals in Lagos. This has led to redundancy on the part of Customs officials posted there while the terminal itself has suffered from lack of cargoes for examination.
Why the decline
The Lillypond Terminal experienced decline in recent months due to the lull in cargo throughput at the major seaport terminals. According to a staff of one of the terminal operators located at the Tin-Can Island Port who declined not to have his name in print as he is not authorised to speak, name change is not the answer to Lillyponds plight.
“Lillypond suffered decline basically because of the drop in cargo levels at the major seaports. The enactment of some government policies like the Auto policy, rice and fish import restrictions meant that cargoes hitherto destined for the major ports in Lagos are being diverted to neighbouring ports along the West African coastline.
“This diversion has led to almost zero level of cargoes at the major ports here in Lagos. Can somebody give out what he or she does not have? That is the main cause of Lillypond woes, not the issue of name of the terminal.
Why name change might backfire
“Changing the name of the terminal to Tin-Can Island Area 2 Command might even backfire because many have failed to look at the history of Lillypond before formulating the name changing policy.
“Lilypond terminal was concessioned in 2006 for 10 years to a separate company belonging to the AP Moller-Maersk Group, the same group that owns APM Terminals, our main rival when it comes to receiving of cargoes at seaports in Lagos.
“We operate from the Tin-Can Island Port while APM Terminals operates from the Apapa port. If government is so concerned about the decline of Lillypond terminal, why didn’t they name the terminal Apapa port 2 Area Command since the owner of Lillypond, APM Terminal operates from the Apapa port?
“As the owners of Lillypond, APM Terminal should take the stick for not stemming cargoes to the off-dock terminal. However, with the lull in cargo throughput generally, it is understandable why enough cargoes have not left APM terminal for Lillypond terminal.
“But naming Lillypond terminal Tin-Can Island Port 2 Area Command will not help the off-dock terminals plight because we are in competition for cargoes with its original owners, APM Termibnals.
“If we are daily improving our services because of competition from Lillypond owners, how does government expect us to stem cargoes to the off-dock facility simply because it now bears the name of our port of operation? Is that logical?” our source explained.