The Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) shut down the Lagos Ports on Monday following the visit of President Mohammadu Buhari to the state to commission various projects including the Lekki Deep Sea Port, causing agony and losses to many operators.
As a result of the closure of the port, activities were paralysed, leading to an estimated loss of N65 million as many cargoes got trapped at the ports.
According to a report by the Guardian, the total closure of the facility and restriction of access to port users over President Buhari’s visit also enraged port users, including freight forwarders and importers exporters of goods who were unable to either clear and transit their cargoes.
The NPA began a strict access control into the PTML area of the Tin Can Island Port, since last weekend, due to the two-day working visit of the President to the MRS Petroleum Tank Farm.
The President is expected to visit the MRS Tank Farm close to PTML Terminal on Tuesday to commission a lubricant factory. NPA port security officials and men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) were seen dispersing port users with security dogs, which created pandemonium at the Tin Can Island port.
Scores of freight forwarders, who had earlier gained access into the port, also confirmed that they were chased away with dogs by the police.
They lamented the huge losses the protocol surrounding the President’s visit had cost them and the nation, as one of the busiest ports in Africa.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Taiwo Fatomilola was quoted by the newspaper as lamenting the huge losses that are being incurred on the trapped cargoes at the port.
“They have paralysed the finance of the port for the past two days. The vehicles and trucks that have been loaded, that were supposed to leave the port since Saturday cannot leave.
“The port has been shut since the weekend. In Tin Can alone, we are losing about N30 million to demurrage, while PTML is about N35 million. That is about N65 million lost per day, money that would have been used as revenue. Imagine the amount that would have been lost for the days the ports will be shut down.
“There is nobody making use of Tin Can Island Port and Grimaldi today (Monday) as we speak, nobody can access these ports, and everybody is stopped at the gate. After showing our identification cards, they came around with police and dogs to chase people away, meanwhile, it won’t be until Tuesday that the President will visit here,” he lamented.
Also reacting to the shutdown, the Public Relations Officer of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Tin Can Island, Onome Monije, said NPA and its operatives were frustrating the ease of doing business, noting that there is no relationship between MRS and port activity. She said no truck can come in or out of the port corridor of Tincan and PTML terminal.
The Taskforce Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Port, Rilwan Amuni, condemned the action, saying there was no prior notice or sensitisation for port users, as many freight forwarders are stranded inside the port and unable to take delivery of their already examined cargoes.