By Shorunke Tunde
The General Manager, PTML Terminal, Tin Can Island Port, Lagos, Tunde Keshinro, has lamented that overtime cargo abandoned at the terminal since 2016 have taken up more than 30 per cent of commercial space in the terminal due to the failure of the Nigeria Customs Service to auction them.
Keshinro stated this when a team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by its Mission Chief to Nigeria, Amine Mati visited the terminal on Saturday.
“Since 2016, we have been struggling with 30 percent of our space locked up under abandoned cargo because Customs is not auctioning and that is a serious concern for us no matter the capacity we have.
“I am a terminal operator and what I sell is my space. How quick and fast I’m able to turn around my space determines the profitability of the business. So when certain portion of the space is locked up, that already will limit the productivity it can take,” Keshinro said
“However, within these constraints, the vessels are regularly coming in, they don’t delay outside and we are able to deliver within acceptable framework for the ship owner.”
The PTML Terminal General Manager said the absence of clearing agents and failure to take delivery of cargoes during the weekend is also affecting operations at the terminal.
He said while the terminal is open 24 hours everyday including weekends, clearing agents and banks don’t operate during the weekend. He also said that clearing agents don’t resume work until 1pm on weekdays, thereby wasting crucial operational hours.
He said, “We deploy online payments, the Customs also deploy online payments, but it is not all the banks that are giving this value of online payments, these are areas that the banks need to expand.
“If you go to the examination bay on Saturday, nothing is happening. If I am discharging on Saturday and there is no opportunity to do further activities on the cargo, I am going to get it locked down till Monday or Tuesday and there is going to be an imbalance. We want the other agencies to work in the real sense of 24 hours operations, not just on paper.
“We must commend the Customs for working with us, within the last few days, they have tried but we can’t shy away from challenges of security, illumination and access difficulties.
“Positioning of containers is done within 24 hours. Billing, receipting and others are done online, and for delivery, we are fully available But we can only offer service to people who are available.
“The clearing agents keep complaining but you don’t see them coming to work on Saturday, you don’t see them coming to work early in the morning, often times we are idle four to five hours. We open our gates by 8am but we don’t see effective agents coming to demand service from you until 12 noon; the real activities start by 1pm.
“It is not enough to complain that Nigerian port is not effective, but how are you processing your own work to take advantage of the opportunities provided.”