The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to auction over 5,000 overtime containers to decongest the nation’s seaports.
The NPA Acting Managing Director Mohammed Bello-Koko made the demand at an interactive session organised by the House of Representatives committee on Customs.
A cargo is classified as overtime if it stays more than 90 days in the seaport after discharge from the ship and such cargoes are subject to seizure by Customs.
The NPA boss said there are over 5,000 overtime containers across the seaports in the country with some occupying space over a year.
“Currently there are over 5,000 containers across the ports that are overtime cargo. Some of these containers are more than a year old, and when you leave these containers, they are occupying space that would have been used for containers imported into the country.
“The containers are supposed to be evacuated to the Ikorodu terminal. Currently Ikorodu terminal has over 2,500 containers.
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“The place is filled up; Nigeria Customs has not auctioned containers to the best of our knowledge in recent times. So there is even no space for more containers.
“We have not seen any container moved out of the Ikorodu terminal for auction in recent times. So there is a need for that to be done to free the ports of overtime cargo.
“Some of them have been there for many years. That is a major problem. If that can be handled, the terminals would be freer to receive new imports and there will be more space for that,” Bello-Koko said.
Meanwhile, the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDLCA) has accused Customs of deliberately frustrating a presidential directive to transfer such consignments to the government warehouse in Ikorodu.
Lucky Amiwero, the National President of NCMDLCA said that based on a letter to the Presidency, a response was sent to the Customs to transfer such overtime consignments to Ikorodu, but it was ignored by Customs Commands.
He called for sanctions against any Command that fails to comply with the directive as such containers continue to occupy space.