• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Shippers’ Council moves to ease clearing of trapped export containers at port

Nigerian Shippers Council

The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) is taking urgent actions to streamline export procedures, ease documentation, and enable the removal of overtime export boxes trapped at ports for years.

In Apapa, for example, about 1,940 containers have spent between zero and 10 days; 1,524 containers stayed between 11 and 20 days; 757 containers spent between 21 and 30 days while 616 have spent between 31 and over two years, which classified them as abandoned export containers.

Speaking during a visit to APM Terminals yard in Apapa Port, Pius Akutah, executive secretary of the NSC, expressed worry over the growing number of export containers that are abandoned at the port over the inability of exporters to comply with regulatory guidelines.

He said the Council would organise stakeholders’ engagement that would bring every player in the value chain together to find solutions to issues clogging export.

“We would also take up issues of awareness creation to sensitise exporters on how to comply with the export procedure. The present situation is not helping the economy especially as the government is trying to promote exports to earn scarce dollars,” he said.

Akutah said there is also a need to put a mechanism in place to stop export boxes that have not completed the required documentation from entering the port.

Earlier, Kayode Daniel, government relations manager at APM Terminals, said they have received a commitment from shipping lines including Maersk, CMA CGA, and Zim to move about 2,752 export containers out of the port in the next five days.

According to him, the inability of exporters to complete the processes required for export containers to leave the port is creating operational bottlenecks for the terminal operator by way of multiple handling of export boxes.

Technically, Daniel said exporters’ action or inaction stalls the shipment of goods because Customs would not authorise the loading of export boxes without proper documentation.

He said there is an established process that is clearly defined by government agencies, but some exporters are not complying with it.

Also speaking, Steen Knudsen, terminal manager at APM Terminals, said export container is not supposed to stay within the port terminal for more than seven days because all shipping line comes to Apapa on a weekly frequency.

Knudsen, however, said the terminal operator cannot mandate the shipping line to load the container because it is an arrangement that is strictly between the exporter, Customs, and the shipping line.

“Most of these containers arrive at the port as ‘good to go’ but it is only when they get to the port that Customs and other authorities would discover some missing elements, which would make the shipping line not to load them,” Knudsen said.

He solicited the collaboration of every player in the value chain to improve the export process in Nigerian ports.

Chinenye Deinde, general manager of Legal at APM Terminals, said there is a need to critically examine the export value chain to identify the source of the problem.

According to her, the business agreement that the exporter enters into with the shipping line makes it mandatory for the shipping company to lift the export boxes if the exporter complies with all the trade guidelines.

She said the clearance needed for export is not only regulatory or government because the shippers also need to pay the freight for the shipping line to lift the container.