Not less than 480 officers of the Tin Can 2 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service in Ijora, Lagos are being rendered jobless as a result of the alleged refusal of APMT Terminal to stem containers to the Lillypond Container Terminal.
This is even as operators at the terminal have lamented that the APMT was using rail network to transfer containers to Ijora rail tracks in a manner that is not approved by customs laws.
Speaking with Shipping Position Daily correspondent last week, image maker of the Tin Can 2 Customs command, Farouk Abubakar confirmed that there are many customs officers milling around at the command doing nothing from morning till close of work.
He attributed the development to the refusal of APMT to stem containers to the terminal. This according to Farouk has equally affected the revenue generation drive of the command from as high as N6billion per month in the past years to N751million.
“We have excess staff than the volume of work that is here, the number of officers on ground is more than the volume of work, if you go round you would see officers sitting down and doing nothing, our examination bay is supposed to be filled up because we have the necessary manpower and facilities but they are lying idle”
“APMT is not doing enough. In the past, Lillypond command used to generate N6billion per month, but it has been reduced to less than N1billion”, he lamented.
In recent times, he said that APMT has engaged the services of the rail to transfer containers to the terminal; he however said the cargo is not coming as expected.
Also speaking with Shipping Position Daily, former chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Lillypond Terminal confirmed that there are 480 customs officers at the command, including the Area Comptroller, Mamoud Dalhart.
He explained that APMT was flouting an agreement it entered into with the stakeholders called; True Bill of Laden (TBL) means that the importer would write on the bill of laden that the final destination of the consignment is Lillypond.
The ANLCA chieftain however argued that: “When the TBL gather in Apapa, they allow them to stay more than one month, and while they are there for one month we would be paying demurrage to the shipping companies, when we clamored, they told us they would be using train” “They were charging us N80, 000 to carry 40foot with truck from Apapa to Ijora, but when they now introduced the train, it became N153, 000. We have discovered that the train is not coming solely for our TBL, they are bringing it for those illegal transactions they were doing here”“APMT is using rail illegally to carry containers from Apapa, purporting that they are coming to Lillypond, the document would read that the container is leaving Apapa to Lillypond, and because they don’t have proper documentation that would allow the container into Lillypond, they would discharge the container on the rail, they would hide their trucks around nooks and crannies of Ijora and when the train has come, the forklift will come out from Lillypond and carrying the containers from rail onto the trucks and they leave to God knows where, most of these containers are with seal”
“After we have challenged them during the day, they now carryout this act in the night especially on Sundays, they carry the containers by rail purporting that it is coming to Lillypond”
Shipping Position Daily however gathered that the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of Customs has now stopped APMT from transferring containers by rail because the Act does not conform to international best practices.
As a result of this, Njemanze said that APMT has stopped bringing TBL containers due for transfer to Lillypond terminal.
“As I speak with you, we have about 70 containers due for transfer to this place but they don’t want to bring them and we are paying demurrage to the shipping company Maersk line”, he alleged.