’28 export containers from Minna rots-away at seaport since September’

The Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) has raised the alarm that 28 containers of export products from Minna, the capital of Niger State have been detained at the ports since September, 2020, and are still languishing away due to unworkable Federal Government import and Export Adjustments policies.

In a statement made available to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, President of SALS, Rev. Jonathan Nicol also alleged that some shipping companies were demanding N80,000 from truckers to offload empty containers in their holding bays while many of them don’t have any holding bay for empty containers.

According to the statement, “in the last quarter of 2020, shipping lines introduced what they called Empty Container Imbalance Fee of $180 for 40ft containers while they charge $150 for 20ft containers.

“According to the shipping lines, the fee is to make up for bookings not met due to the bad port traffic situation, especially, for export cargoes. Due to this situation, containers were delivered in piece meals as the traffic dictates. There was a huge movement of export cargoes during the harvest period in the late third and fourth quarters of 2020.

“However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) NXP Compulsory Registration created a bottleneck that almost suffocated the entire export trade. Export cargoes were rejected by the Terminal Operators for lack of space, while exporters battled with registration on the CBN platform and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) as supervisory.

“So many export cargoes were detained, especially the 28 export containers from the Minna Export and Shippers Association (MESA). These exports were detained due to unworkable Federal Government import and Export Adjustments policies.

“All efforts to get the 28 containers released have been futile. They are now under investigation by the office of the Inspector General of Police. Just imagine the enormous loss the Minna Export and Shippers Association may have incurred as a result of policy somersault, cost of demurrages on the cargoes since September 2020 and the life expectancy of the perishable food items in the Containers.”

On import processes, the Shippers association stated that, “The collapse of our Import Adjustments Policies even affected Imports drastically. The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was given a blank cheque to pursue revenue at all cost. The NCS jettisoned trade facilitation under the World Customs Organisation’s Treaties, thereby militarising the trade platforms with gun toting Customs officers.

“Our Customs Tariff is unbearably high. Stakeholders have advocated for a reduction of the tariff items but the NCS is an institution that no one can talk to. So, whatever they want you to do, you must comply.

“Official duty returns are inflated through the forceful duty regime importers are made to pay with tears. It is high time we removed staple foods from our prohibition list. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements will dictate this. We are already a signatory.”


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