Licensed clearing agents and other operators have expressed concerns over the indefinite closure of some bonded terminals in Lagos by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
They claim that the activities of the customs, particularly those in charge of Trade & Tariff (T&T), have caused them a colossal amount of money which they pay as demurrage on cargo trapped inside the affected terminals.
Some of the licensed clearing agents in Apapa and Tin-Can spoke with our correspondent and claimed that the closure of some bonded terminals without consideration for the activities of importers whose goods were trapped was against the government to enhance seamless trade facilitation.
A clearing agent at Tin-Can Island Port, Saidu Kareem, said the officials attached to T&T gave verbal orders without any signed documented directive to stop operations on an allegation of unpaid assessments by several customs licensed agents and importers operating at the Lagos terminal, adding that the customs’ action was frustrating their businesses.
Emeka Ogwu, who is a member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), urged the federal government to wade into their plight and resolve the situation so that businesses would not be disrupted.
He alleged that the sudden unwarranted illegal sealing of many bonded terminal premises around the Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports had attracted avoidable demurrages.
He said despite the intervention of the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), requesting the immediate reversal of the verbal directive, including effort to arrange for a formal meeting where facts and figures could be laid bare, bearing in mind that most of the containers had been vandalised by pirates, the action of the customs continued.
The spokesman of the customs, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, while responding to the allegation, said he was not aware of the closure of any bonded terminal in Lagos.
DCC Attah said, “Personally, I am not aware of the sealing up of any bonded terminal in Lagos, but I will find out.”