By Godfrey Bivbere
THE Shippers Association of Lagos State, SALS, has warned that unless urgent measures are taken to address stacking of containers at the nation’s port quay apron, the facility would soon collapse.
The facility was built about 70 years ago for loading and off-loading of vessels’ cargoes.
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Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on stacking of consignments at the quay apron, President of SALS, Jonathan Nicol, said despite the denial by terminal operators that there is congestion, the ports in Lagos are presently overstretched.
Nicol said that the congestion at the port is causing the federal government loss of huge revenue as well as a shortage of materials in the system.
According to him, “Apart from revenue loss on the side of the government, you may have a situation where the ports may even collapse. If you have over 5,000 containers on the ship side not evacuated to the terminals, the weight of the containers at the terminals by the ship side puts pressure on the structures because it is not meant to be a storage point. It was meant to be cargo transit step to the terminals.
“As weight comes in, you shed it. Now you have ship side completely stacked permanently because there is no space at the terminals to take them. That is what is called congestion.
“So waiting time for vessels will increase that will mean additional charges on shippers. So where is the regulation? None? We cannot justify those charges because someone failed to do his job. In other climes you are glad to pay their charges because you get service timely.
“The freight rate is revolving; since it is revolving it means that it is something that is continuing. It is microsecond of the day, so every microsecond of the day someone is getting some money.
“When they are stacked there will be a breakage even though the money is there but you cannot have what you suppose to take in for instance if it is N10 billion, you cannot get in N5 billion and when an importer knows that what he is going to pay on demurrage is more than what he can afford he will abandon it.
“Once he does that, everybody is losing. Those who would have used those goods would not be able to use them anymore and that is what is called shortages in materials in the system, and shortages in revenue both ways.
“At the end of the day, you will see the whole of the port littered with boxes. With the concerted efforts of all the government agencies doing what is right, I believe they will be able to make so much money for the government but the government has to put so many things right for the users of the these facilities,” he noted.
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