Fresh investigations have revealed that the once-booming vehicles bonded terminal in the Okota, Lagos, owned by a frontline indigenous terminal operator, SIFAX group is now a shadow of itself in the area of handling of imported vehicles.
When Shipping Position Daily visited the terminal last week, it was gathered that the terminal stopped vehicle handing more than a year ago and that it has now specialized on containerized goods.
It will be recalled that in 2016, SIFAX Group as part of the one-stop vehicle importation, opened two terminals at Okota, Lagos, where the storage and releasing of imported vehicles are done.
In a press release signed by the then-Managing Director of SIFAX Group, John Jekins , he was quoted to have said that the bad state of roads around the port and the need to decongest the port are two of the major factors for taking the terminals away from the port.
“The reason why we made Sifax terminal at Okota our discharging office was because there is a high demand for dedicated Roll-on-Roll-off (RoRo) off-dock terminal solutions outside the port area. With an increase in import cargo and deteriorating roads, consignees are seeking for better accessibility in the release of their cargo. The Off-dock terminals are strategically located along the main roads of Lagos and they are new purpose-built logistics center for handling roro products for the Nigerian market. Its geographical position in the center of Lagos industrial zone provides consignees with faster and more cost effective transport solution,” he had said.
Jenkins further said it was necessary to open the new terminals to customers because the port area is a temporary transit base where cargoes are stored before it is then transferred to an off-dock terminal. He also assured agents and consignees of an innovative, excellent and unparalleled customer service that will make the releasing of vehicles at the terminals a pleasurable experience.
Also speaking at the event in 2017, the General Manager, RoRo Terminals, Sifax Group, Saheed Lasisi said, “Both terminals have all the required facilities to meet and exceed expectations of the agents. At the Okota terminals, we have the presence of the Customs officers, a billing and manifest office and all other services that can make the releasing of vehicles very convenient.”
Interestingly one year after, the terminal has stopped handling vehicles.
A source close to the terminal who pleaded anonymity, told Shipping Position Daily that stopping vehicle handling at the terminal was a business decision by the company and nothing more, even as he added that for now there are no plans of going back to vehicle handling at the terminal.
“It is just a business decision there is nothing more to it. No for now I don’t think there are any plans of going back to vehicle handing at the terminal. We didn’t handle vehicles at all this year we concentrated on containers; we stopped about a year and half ago. That is why I said that it is a business decision we just wanted to focus on some other things that we are into”
“We cannot say anything on the challenges because the environment we had then when we wre into vehicles is different from what is obtainable now, so we can’t tell you anything as regards to the challenges”, he said.