In a bid to free Lagos ports of the pile-up of thousands of unclaimed containers, stakeholders in the nation’s port system have agreed that the infamous task force on 100 percent examination should be re-introduced, even as they agreed that Nigerian Ports Authourity should regulate rates and tariffs that will henceforth be charged by terminal operators.
Apparently swayed be the allegations that terminal operators subject importers to payment of many questionable tariffs and charges, the stakeholders affirmed that pending when the Federal Government will create a commercial regulator, the NPA should “monitor and regulate charges by terminal operators as provided by the Nigerian Ports Authourity Act”.
They however urged government to hasten the process of enacting the law that relates to commercial regulation in the port system, even as they endorsed the creation of a standing committee to auction overtime cargoes.
While the task force on 100 physical examination of containers commences work on Monday, January 12, 2009, the committee on disposal of overtime cargo is expected to commence work on Monday, January 19, 2009.
However, while the task force has 60 days within which to complete its assignment, the overtime cargo auction committee is expected to work for only 45 days after which a standing committee will be created to handle future cases of unclaimed cargoes.
Each of the containers that will be examined physically is also to pay a fine of 20 per cent of the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of the goods.
These are part of the far-reaching agreements that were reached at the end of a stakeholders’ meeting that was held last week in Lagos and which was attended by the minister of transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio and his finance ministry counterpart, Dr Mansur Mukhtar.
The meeting was attended by port concessionaires, shipping agents, freight forwarders as well as chief executives of Nigerian Ports Authourity, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the executive secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council.
The meeting was the climax of almost one month of sustained attention by both the National Assembly and the executive arm. The House of Representatives committee on marine transport was the first to visit Lagos ports to assess the situation, followed by the visit of the transport minister who was at the port last December 24.
President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua had earlier given stakeholders a 60-day ultimatum to decongest the ports.