Shippers groan as Police stifles business at Nigerian Ports

Businesses especially shippers bringing in finished goods and raw materials through the seaports, have raised alarm over the incessant interception of duly cleared containers by men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) deployed to the port.

According to them, the Nigerian Police has abandoned its statutory function of providing security to encroach into shipping, with the intention of generating resources for its officers.

Jonathan Nicol, president of Shippers Association of Lagos State, told BusinessDay on the phone that the men of Nigerian Police have become a thorn in the flesh of importers.

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“They block containers that are duly cleared and released by Customs without just cause. If you go to Alagbon in Lagos State, it has become like a market place. We cannot say that we are getting value for our goods because everybody is making losses. Shippers are crying but nobody is seeing their tears,” he explains.

According to him, the Police has left the statutory functions of providing security in the port to making money for its officers.

“They now have access to the ship manifest, which is not supposed to be and that has enabled them to encroach into shipping. Police most of the time say some goods are not well detected but that is the work of Customs. The shipper cannot heave a sigh of relief even when the goods get to the warehouse because the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) may also come to the warehouse to impound the goods over one infraction or the other. The challenges are too much, shippers are dying. Those that took bank loan could not pay back,” Nicol further says.

Citing an instance, he disclosed that a shipper that has 15 containers of goods at the port, could not clear eight containers due to lack of money to cater for the problems with government agencies including the Police.

Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, a clearing and forwarding company, who notes that the Police are creating bottlenecks to ease of doing business, says importers incur avoidable expenses that only result in losses at the end of the day.

According to him, Police block containers that are stacked at the port terminal, and tell the owner to come to their Alagbon office in Lagos.

“This does not help the importer, rather it inflicts pain because the Police would ask the importer to pay millions of naira to clear a container from them depending on the goods in the container,” he added.


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