Despite the 24-hour cargo clearance procedure, importers are still experiencing abnormal cargo clearance at the seaports. It was gathered that the government agencies were creating problems for importers.
The President of Shippers’ Association of Lagos State, Jonathan Nicole, said in Lagos that cargo dwell time was too long because Nigerian ports were operating in an abnormal situation.
Nicole explained that the Port of Sri Lanka, which handles about six million containers annually, had more plants and equipment that enable its terminals service vessels in two hours.
According to him, “the turnaround time for vessels is in few hours and their customs service is not located in the port but outside the port.
They examine cleared cargo at the port gate.” The president therefore called for a new port order, saying government must put its feet on the ground to bring changes into the system.
It was gathered that cargo dwell time at the nation’s seaports was the highest when compared with other seaports in Africa. At Cotonou Port in Benin, cargo dwell time is between 12 and 14 days; Durban Port, four days; while in Mombassa Port in Kenya, cargo has a maximum of five to seven days to stay at the port.
Already, a study by the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) revealed that the country’s seaports had the lowest free storage period in West African sub-region as importers get three storage free days before being charged for storage by terminal operators.
The council’s study explained that in Benin Republic, importers get seven free days, while it is 11 free days in Ghana and Cameroon.
It noted that importers get five demurrage free periods in Nigerian seaport; 10 days in Republic of Benin; seven in Ghana and10 in Cameroon.
The Executive Secretary of the council, Hassan Bello, noted in Lagos that the cost and cumbersome process of doing business was high in Nigerian ports prior to the appointment of NSC as the ports economic regulator.
He explained that the council was appointed as port regulator by the Federal Government, having observed that the cost of doing business in Nigeria was high, coupled with the low ranking of Nigeria on ‘Global Logistics Index’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business.