Nigeria loses N6 bn monthly to low activity at Lilypond Inland Port, says freight forwarder

A freight forwarder, Chuks Ijemanze, has said the Nigerian government loses about N6 billion monthly, due to low activity and the redundant state of the Lilypond Off-dock Terminal, an inland port in Lagos.

He made the statement at a news conference in Lagos as maritime activities closed for the week ended on Oct 16.

Ijemanze, a former Chairman of the Lilypond Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, explained that the terminal had for a long time not provided services near its 15,000 TEUs (20 ft. containers) capacity.

According to him, all agencies operating in the terminal are currently redundant.

He said if the situation was not addressed soon, businesses in that environment would die and government would also suffer huge losses.

In the week under review, the Senate Committee on Rice Waivers summoned the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, who is a retired colonel.

The committee wanted Ali to explain his reasons for lifting the restriction on rice importation through land borders.

 Ali was summoned, following a motion by Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi), who decried the decision by the customs boss.

The committee said Ali lacked power to lift the ban, arguing that the action could undermine local production of rice.

Also in the week, the comptroller-general of customs at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, warned against corrupt practices by customs operatives, shippers (importers and exporters) and customs agents.

He said that anyone caught risked being jailed for at least five years without an option of fine.

Ali said it was possible for customs to clear goods from the ports within 48 hours if there were no falsification in declaration of goods.

The customs chief said that in carrying out his assignment, he would ensure that all acts of cutting corners by some importers and agents were stopped.

He also promised to look into the challenges complained about by freight forwarders.

In the week under review, the Western Marine Command of the NCS demanded more outstations in Iyana Sashi and Ikorodu (Lagos State); Lokoja (Kogi) and Odo, Shaki in Oyo State.

The Controller of the command, Yusuf Umar, also requested water patrol crafts, including medium-sized boats and high-speed outboard engines, to boost anti- smuggling operations.

Umar said that the command needed trucks to convey seizures to the base and other utility vehicles for outstations.

He appealed to the comptroller-general to provide accommodation for customs operatives in the outstations, who currently lived in rented apartments, which he described as “risky to their lives.’’

Responding, the comptroller-general said that promotion would henceforth be done twice every year, adding that officers and men of the service would not stay at a post beyond three years.

Also during the week, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) urged Canadian firms to invest in Nigerian ports and take advantage of numerous investment opportunities in Nigeria.

The Managing Director of the NPA, Habib Abdullahi, made the call while receiving the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner in his office in Lagos.

Abdullahi advised Canadian firms to show greater interest in Green Field port development and capacity building in marine-related disciplines.