Stakeholders have faulted the claim of Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that it now takes an average of seven days to clear trouble-free cargo from the port to the importer’s warehouse.
Okonjo-Iweala recently said at the Pan-Africa investors’ conference in Lagos that it takes an average of 39 days to clear goods at the port while the clearance of trouble-free cargo has dropped to seven days.
According to BusinessDay investigation, it currently takes an average of 14 days for an importer with genuine declaration of cargo content, whose Customs documentation is devoid of complications to clear his or her goods out of the port and deliver to the importer’s warehouse.
Responding, Tony Anakebe, the managing director of Gold-Link Investment Limited, a clearing and forwarding company, told our correspondent that clearing at the port is gradually returning back to those days of difficulties due to the congestion at some terminals.
According to him, it takes an average of 14 to 21 days for a genuine importer, who has no documentation problem, to clear his or her goods out of the port. He attributed some of the delays in cargo clearance to the inability of most terminal operators to drop the containers for either scanning by the destination inspection service providers or physical examination by Customs.
“Terminal operators are finding it difficult to drop containers for examination and scanning on time such that some of them give agents close to seven days for dropping of container after booking for examination. So the seven days the minister said is currently not achievable in Nigerian ports”.
Analysing further, he said that months after the exit of sacked government agencies from Nigerian ports, the ports recorded an improvement in the dwell time of cargo, which dropped from a minimum of 32 to 39 days to the current dwell time of 14 to 21 days.
The multiple government agencies exited the port in compliance with the presidential directive given to them by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the end of 2011, to further reduce cargo dwell time and attain 48 hours cargo clearance at the port.
Kanikwu David Chuks, a renowned maritime analyst, said that cargo clearance at the port currently takes longer than the seven days mentioned by the minister due to several bottlenecks to cargo clearance.
According to him, the larger chunk of the bottlenecks that cause delay of cargo clearance comes from the scanning site of the destination inspection service providers, and this hinders the Federal Government intention to attain timely delivery of cargo within 48 hours.
In his own view, Lucky Amiwero, a critical maritime stakeholder, said that the seven days cargo clearance is not as truthful as the minister said it, because there are lots of bottlenecks that hinder timely clearance of cargo in the port