Nigerian importers are to cough out N68.25 billion on demurrage as trucks are finding it difficult to lift their containers out of Lagos ports, checks by New Telegraph have revealed.
The amount is the charges they would pay shipping companies, terminal operators, Nigeria Customs Service, truckers and Customs agents in one week.
In the last one week, it was gathered that trucks laden with containers have congested the ports, making it difficult for other vehicles to access the port terminals.
Already, Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Hasstrup, has warned that failure to deploy traffic officials in large number to manage the heavy traffic could lead to chaos, the return of vessel queue and port congestion.
Worried by the situation, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has deployed about 200 of its personnel to Apapa to ease the gridlocks caused by over 1,500 articulated vehicles struggling to access the ports.
It was gathered that about N6.5 million would be required to clear and move a container out of the port.
A report by Akintola Williams Deloitte said that shippers pay as much as N668.5 million daily across the ports on demurrage.
In its value chain analysis of a 20-foot container laden with cargo worth N44.42 million ($100,000), the firm said that out of the N6.5 million charges, shipping companies were responsible for 13.8 per cent of the port cost (N897,000); terminal operators, 1.8 per cent (N117,000); Customs, 82.1 per cent (N5.3 million); transporters, 1.1 per cent (N71,500) and clearing agents (N78,000).
Terminal operators under the umbrella of STOAN, who were not comfortable with the condition at the Lagos ports, have urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene as the entire port environment has been paralysed by hundreds of trucks clogging everywhere.
Haastrup said that vessels had started queuing to offload their cargoes as trucks were finding it difficult to enter the terminals, while that are inside could not come out to free the space in the ports.
She noted that the failure by government to deploy a large number of traffic officials to ensure the free flow of traffic at Wharf road was a step towards chaos.
She said: “Port congestion is certainly not what Nigeria can afford at this difficult economic time. Port congestion will result in vessels queue – which is already happening and this comes at a huge cost to the Nigerian economy. We have noticed that anytime a section of the road is closed, everywhere is clogged. The entire port environment is paralysed.”
Haastrup said that the control of port roads must go on for 24 hours a day to ensure the free flow of traffic. She added that port congestion might be inevitable if there was no free flow of traffic while the road repair lasts.
She said: “This is not a matter that should be treated lightly at all. While we commend the Nigerian Ports Authority and the private sector for the repair of the severely damaged Ijora-Wharf Road, we must emphasise the need to ensure the free flow of traffic while the repair lasts.
Besides, Haastrup tasked the Federal Government on the development of alternative modes of transport, such as rail and pipeline, to reduce pressure on the roads.
She stressed the need to relocate tank farms from Apapa, adding that it was wrong to have populated the port environment with such large number of tank farms.