Clearing agents operating at the Tin Can Port have lamented the high demurrage charges that have been accrued by them as a result of power failure at the Tin Can Port Customs Command for about 10 days now.
The power failure, which has crippled business activities at the port has led to high demurrage and storage charges for importers, as documentation for Customs clearance by clearing agents have become tedious.
The Tin-Can Island Port is the second busiest seaport in Nigeria after Apapa port. The port has five terminal operators with different concession agreements.
A clearing agent at Tin Can Island Port, Ayoola Yusuf accused the Nigeria Customs Service of deliberately sabotaging the efforts in order to allow terminal operators rake-in more money through demurrage charges.
According to him, “the power failure for the past one week has delayed cargo clearance as owners of the consignments are already mounting pressure on them to deliver their goods.
He said: “It’s more than a week now that we have been hearing that there is power failure, and I don’t believe them, maybe they want terminal operators to make money through demurrage so that they can have their share, because if there is power failure, there should be back up, but they don’t have back up, it’s funny, already the owners of some of these cargoes are already mounting pressure that their consignment has taken so much time for it to be delivered, this is unfair, how long are we going to continue doing this” he questioned.
Another agent who spoke to our correspondent; Mr Julius Obasi, also lamented that the power failure at the Tin Can Customs has made him lose a job worth millions of naira, as the owner of the consignment no longer trust him to deliver on the agreed date, while calling for an investigation into the reason why the command suffers power and server failure almost all the time.
According to him, “I am tired of this. Their epileptic operations here at Tin Can, as supposed to be given some containers to clear by the same person that owns the container, have been difficult to clear, but he didn’t believe me, now I know how much I have lost because of this their down time”.
“Something must be done, perhaps an investigation as to why we used to have power failure, server failure almost all the time, this is not good at all” he lamented.
When contacted the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Uche Ejesieme, confirmed the command indeed suffered power failure even as he said that the Command has written to Web Fontaine to resolve the failure. He also informed that the command has also suffered from the failure as well as it has caused a sharp decline in revenue and delay in cargo clearance.
He however said the command is working round the clock to ensure that the problem is resolved.
According to him, “we are engaging Web Fontaine to make sure that this is resolved, we have also communicated to the headquarters now, Customs operation at the command have been affected, causing delay in cargo clearance and the attendant sharp decline of revenue collection
We have written formally to the headquarters(of Nigeria Customs Service) to intimate them about the development, however preliminary efforts we are making here is to mount pressure on Web Fontaine, we understand that backup generator has completely pack up but they are promising that they are going to do something as soon
But we are working round the clock to ensure that this is resolved as soon as possible, beyond the fact that there is a sharp decline in revenue it is also contributing to delays in the cargo clearance proceedings” he said.