A Lagos-based terminal operator, Princess Victoria Haastrup, has identified inconsistent government policies, improper documentation by port users and under-declaration by importers as factors hampering service delivery at the nationâ€™s seaports.
Haastrup, who is also the Chairman, Seaports Terminal Operators of Association of Nigeria (STOAN), stated this at a one-day roundtable discussion on cargo exposure to risks of damage, loss and delay at Nigerian ports and terminals organised by the Cargo Defence Fund (CDF) of the Nigerian Shippersâ€™ Council (NSC).
She also said that most of the vessels bringing cargo into Nigeria are old and often their gears develop problems during discharge operation, adding that improper cargo storage system and poor packaging of cargo especially those arriving Nigeria from other third world countries contribute to cargo damage.
She said: “Under-declaration is also part of the reasons why cargoes are damaged. A situation where an importer declares a container that weighs 60 tons as 50 tons and you as terminal operator deploys a 50-ton capacity equipment to lift a 60-ton container, what do you expect if not cargo damage?â€
She revealed that some importers whose goods were discharged in November 2013 under the old destination inspection (DI) scheme handled by service providers were yet to take delivery of their cargoes.
The STOAN Chairman averred that such anomalies do not only create delays in the cargo logistics chain and but are also recipes for port congestion.
â€œImporters who imported goods after Customs changed from Risk Assessment Report (RAR) to Pre-Arrival Assessment Reports (PAAR) still have their cargoes in the terminals and it was recently the Comptroller General of Customs gave additional two weeks for the cargoes to be cleared,” she pointed out.
She called on the harmonisation of ship inspection procedures by government agencies at the port in order to minimise vessel delays and reduce the cost of doing business.
Haastrup tasked importers and agents to embrace genuine declaration and support the Nigeria Customs Service to achieve fast cargo clearance on the platform of the Nigeria Trade Hub and the PAAR scheme.
Stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy, especially port users, have often expressed dismay over the delay in the cargo clearance process in the nationâ€™s seaports, airports and international borders.
They said the delay was one of the reasons why the World Bank have adjudged Nigeria as one of the toughest place to do business as the delay leads to the payment of demurrage running into several millions of naira.