Association seeks FG intervention in operations at Lilypond dry port

 The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Lilypond Chapter, Lagos, says only the Federal Government intervention can increase the movement of containers and business activities at the port.
Mr Chuks Njemanze, Chairman of the association said in an interview in Lagos that government’s intervention would boost business transactions in the more than 10,000 capacity terminal.

He said government should take the  responsibility of ensuring that containers were stemmed to feed the terminal.

Njemanze said that the concessioning of the ports disorganised the movement of containers to Lilypond.

According to him, the concessionaires use the privatisation platform to create another terminal that took over their businesses.

“The issue is a very fundamental issue in the sense that Lilypond has a status of a dry port.

“Before the inception of the concession, Lilypond had a berthing space at Apapa at shed six where every vessel that berths there, all to the onward transfer to the Lilypond.

 “But, immediately after the concession, all those things were disorganized. Right now, we are at the mercy of the concessionaire that is in charge of stemming vessels, which is very wrong.

“They ought to have been a tree port, when these vessels berth, for onward distribution, to both bonded terminals and dry ports. So that that place will always be empty for movement.

“But now, they also have established a terminal there and saddled with the responsibility of generating revenue. So, it now becomes a kind of challenge, wanting to outdo another command in revenue generation,” Njemanze said.

He called on government to consider the economic contribution that activities in the terminal would make as was its plan when the terminal was established as a dry port.

Responding, Mr Bolaji Akinola, Spokesman for the Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) said terminal operators were not responsible for stemming containers out of the ports and should not be blamed for that.

He said that the concession had made the port operations more efficient, making them have only occasional needs for the off-dock terminals, especially those close to the ports.

“Well, first and foremost, is to say that terminal operators are not responsible for transfer s to off-dock facilities. Ours is to handle boxes in our facilities. 

“The essence of the port reform and concession of the terminal was to bring efficiency into the terminal. So, there is efficiency inside the terminals. 

“There is no need for any of those terminals around. We will use them only when we are short of space inside the main facilities, but in a situation where you have abundant space, there is no need for any transfer to any off-dock facility. 

“Because transfer to off-dock facility even adds to the cost of clearance, add to the cost of doing business and also adds to the time of clearing. 

“You will be aware that last year, customs said they transferred 55,000 units of containers from Apapa port to off-dock facilities. So, it tells you where the responsibility and the power to transfer lies.”

Akinola also said that low volume of imports, as was being experienced presently, meant abundant capacity inside the main terminal, making it impossible to move containers to support outside terminals.