There was tension at the Tin Can Island Port last weekend as operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service stormed the port and sealed-off four unregistered warehouses where vehicles are usually being discharged.
Investigations by Shipping Position Daily last week showed that, due to the bad state of the access road to the port, importers and clearing agents prefer to use these warehouses to off-load their vehicles and thereafter drive them to final destination.
Such a move also helps them to return the empty containers back to the shipping companies early in order to retrieve their container deposits. One of the warehouses is called Hannover; another is the premises of ConOil filling station located at National Bus stop, while the remaining two were also within the radius of the port.
When he was contacted by our correspondent, Public Relations Officer of the FOU Zone ‘A’ Mr. Jerry Attah confirmed the development. He told our correspondent at the weekend that the warehouses were sealed-off due to an intelligence report and that it would only be reopened when the customs has concluded its investigations.
Speaking with our correspondent earlier, Chairman of Tin Can Chapter of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); Prince Segun Oduntan also confirmed the incident. He however said that the situation has been resolved and that the premises have been re-opened.
Oduntan explained that, as a result of the bad access road, agents were the ones that approached the owners of these facilities to allow them open containers; discharge the content and promptly return empty containers to the shipping companies. According to him, customs has already collected import duty on these containers and they were dully cleared.
“We were the ones that went to the owners to assist us to open it because of the gridlock, and there is no contraband that is being offloaded there, they are not offloading any contraband, they are offloading their normal vehicle imports”
“With the gridlock we are having on the roads now, it is better for you to offload your car here and drive it away than for you to transport it in a container. There are no good roads for the trailers to convey cargoes through”, he noted.
Confirming to our correspondent that activities have actually returned to normalcy at the port, he stated that, “we have been able to resolve it, we have put things in proper perspective and they have been able to see that there is nothing illegal going on in this environment; they have agreed to make business flow”
“We had to go and appeal to the Controller of FOU for him to see reasons, what they are giving him as an excuse is not true, we told him to come here and see things for himself”.