Freight forwarders blame Concessionaire for low-level economic activity at Lilypond Terminal

 Freight forwarding associations operating at the Lilypond Terminal have accused the Concessionaire of lack of determination to make the facility economically vibrant.

Mr Femi Olabanji, Chairman ANLCA, Lilypond Chapter

At the visit of the Assistant Comptroller General, Zone ‘A’ Eporwei Edike to the Lilypond Customs Command, representatives of the various associations pleaded for government’s intervention to save their business operations from total collapse.

Mr John Ihejieto, Chairman, NCMDLCA, Lilypond
Speaking, Mr Femi Olabanji, Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)at Lilypond said the Concessionaire’s disposition showed a deliberate attempt at allowing the place 'close shop.'

He said that rather than allow business operations go under, the facility could be better managed by another interested business owner.

“The issue of Lilypond to me is that the concessionaire of this terminal is not concerned.

“If this terminal operator can wake up and take this terminal as a  business point, it will be better  for them, but they don’t care because Apapa is paying them.

“If you invest money on a property and that property is not producing money, it is not being utilised, you need to give it out to somebody who can utilise it,” he said.

Olabanji said that due to low traffic at the terminal, containers would get cleared faster compared to busier terminals where importers may have to pay demurrage as a result of attending to so many imports at the same time.

“For instance, look at Tin-can second gate, if you have a job there it takes you long time before you can take it out because of logistics.

“Go to Apapa, if you book your container for today, say about 10 containers to be examined and you have to examine all before you release, it takes you two weeks.
“But here, if you bring in containers to Lilypond, I am sure that from the day you bring your container, it will take two to three days to clear your container out.
“When you bring your goods and they are kept in Apapa, they are going into demurrage; the time of examination is a problem because they have more than enough and keep some of the consignment in block-staking which is just causing demurrage,” Olabanji noted.

He argued that the Lilypond Terminal still had the best offer in cost because according to him, even if importers claimed to enjoy waivers at other terminals, they still would pay the shipping companies.

Also speaking, Mr John Ihejieto, Chapter Chairman of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) sought the intervention of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali(Rtd.).

He said the freight forwarders had officially written the CGC, intimating him of their challenge and possible ways that the issue could be addressed.

Like Olabanji, Ihejieto blamed the concessionaire for allowing the facility, which he said ‘can take up to 15 ships containers’, go redundant by giving all attention to their other terminals in Apapa to the detriment of this.

“We want the Federal Government to revisit the concession agreement of this place and see what can be done about it.  Such a place should not lie fallow. 

“The problem we are having here is that the concessionaires have decided to let this place lie fallow, while they are not ready to leave let it go.

 “Ideally, after arriving Apapa port, the containers should be transferred to various terminals where the importer takes delivery, but the concessionaires now decided to be warehousing containers at Apapa.

“The concessionaires decided to expand Apapa so widely that they don’t want to work outside Apapa again.

“Since they don’t want to use this place, they should let it go to other shipping companies than can operate this place,” he said.

A reliable source at the terminal that declined being mention, said containers would only be stemmed to Lilypond Terminal if and when there is congestion at the Apapa port.

He also said that no importer would be willing to incur additional cost for stemming their container to the facility when they could just get it all done in Apapa port.

The source disclosed that a decision on the state of the facility would be made, on the expiration of the present concession agreement between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the facility managers.