Bonded terminal operators under the aegis of the Association of Indigenous Bonded Terminal Operators (AIBTON) has lamented that government policies in the sector only favour foreign operators at the expense of indigenous operators.
The Executive Secretary of the association; Mr Haruna Omolajomo said this yesterday in a chat with Shipping Position Daily at Tin Can Island Port.
Mr Omolajomo, who is also the General Manager of Duncan Bonded Terminal, also said that due to the poorly structured policy, foreign terminal operators like the APM Terminal, have so many containers to handle while owners of bonded terminals are left with nothing.
"The policy in place does not favour the local content that the federal government said they are practicing. The policy implemented in the country does not favour boded terminal as par the local content. Because the local content says that Nigerians are supposed to benefit more from what is on ground, but the reverse is the case now. Bonded terminal operators we are not benefiting much because the policy in place favours the foreigners. That is why you see some concessionaires like APM Terminal having so many containers to handle, while we are left out.
So the policy in place does not favour us", he lamented.
He also explained that though the policy is not favourable to operators of bonded terminals, their capacity utilization have increased from 3% of what it is used to be, to 10%, stressing that the achievement was possible due to the congestion on the roads leading to the ports.
He explained that some bonded terminal have been converted to holding bays by shipping companies thereby boosting the activities at the terminal unlike before when nothing was happening at the terminals.
"We thank God this year is getting better more than last year, we were working under 3% over all capacity. But now it has improved a little, we now have up to 8-10% capacity utilization. What actually made this happen will be because of the bad roads and congestion, because of that some people now see bonded terminal as a place they can use”, he noted.
“You now discover that some of our boned terminals are being used as holding bays unlike what we have in the past when they don't use them as holding bays. We were just stagnant nothing was moving but now they have started using them as holding bays", he added.
He also added that some bonded terminals are now being used for export. “For example you have some bonded terminals where some little activities of export are carried out”.
He however lauded the management of the Nigerian Customs Service for making efforts to boost activities at the bonded terminals.
"We are calling on the federal government to look at the issue of bonded terminals, we are major stakeholders, but mostly when they want to do anything we are not involved. Don't forget that bonded terminals have invested over N3 trillion in our various businesses. So we are major stakeholders when you talk of maritime industry. It is very regrettable that whenever the government wants to make any policy we are totally ignored”.