Even as most maritime industry stakeholders have kicked against the controversial port congestion surcharge introduced by CMA CGM on goods destined for Lagos ports, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has thrown its weight behind the multinational shipping line and its action.
While reacting to the surcharge in an interview with Shipping Position Daily last week in Lagos, the Acting Executive Director of CILT, Mr. Paul Ndibe maintained that the shipping line should not be blamed for the decision, adding that it means that the company has truly been incurring extra costs arising from the congestion in Apapa and Tin Can ports.
He described the move by the shipping line as a wake-up call for Nigerians to be more conscious of the port operations.
According to him, there are serious matters relating to congestion of cargo-laden vessels coming into the country’s ports and trucks loading such cargoes from the ports.
Justifying CILT’s position, he said: "I think it is a call for us to be more conscious in our operations. Port congestion is not something new to us; we know that there are serious matters relating to congestion; both for the vessels carrying cargoes and trucks going into the ports to lift cargoes”.
“So, it will be fair on our own to do something serious, so we shouldn't blame them (CMA CGM); it means they are port-conscious and they have been receiving costs arising from the congestion at the ports. They should not be blamed for taking the lead, look at what is happening on the Apapa road", he argued.
According to him, if the nation does not eliminate congestion around the ports, it is the shipper that will bear the cost. He condemned a situation in which trucks will be on queue for weeks to either access the port or exit.
"Trucks have been there for at least a minimum of two to three weeks trying to get access to the port. It is a wake-up call for us to be port conscious. Because if you don't take measures to eliminate congestion around the ports, if we continue to delay, then the shipper will definitely pay the cost of the delay on the shipment, not necessarily the terminal operator, but the shipper", he said.
He urged shippers to cry to the government who has the responsibilities of decongesting the ports. According to him, rather than blame the shipping line, importers and users of shipping services should engage with the government on the bad state of the approaches to Lagos ports.
"So if a shipper is caught on the account of this delay, then the shipper should cry out to the government because the government is to see to the end of congestion around the port area", he stressed.
Speaking on the issue of holding bays, he explained that it would have been easier to implement the directive if the port management is under one terminal operator, stressing that all the terminal operators are working according to the space given to them in the concession agreement.
"If for example Apapa port is solely under ABTL without the way it is partitioned and then concessioned to terminal operators, if they were no terminal operators and the port is under NPA, there would have been arrangement of where one can settle in other to ease the congestion of cargoes coming in. ABTL and ENL may have space while some others may not have such space and it would be logical for them to diver the cargoes they have to other terminals that have space", he argued