By Christiana Ekpa
A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Leke Abejide has called on the Federal government to as a matter of urgency address alleged corrupt practices and frivolous charges taking place at the Lagos Apapa Port.
Abejide who revealed this yesterday while briefing news men in Abuja alleged that some of the shipping companies charge as high as Two Million Naira to release just one Bill of Lading.
“It is that bad! Nigerian Businessmen are in trouble in the hands at these shipping lines and terminal operators and it seems the Federal Government of Nigeria is not aware.
“The worst thing is, these shipping lines which refused to do the right thing by locating their empty containers bay outside the Port area, say, 100 kilometers away or more will be calculating N21 ,400.00 per day on those containers on top of trucks.
“In this way, they are using the Trucks of the Agents/Importers as warehouses and at the same time charging the same Importers/Agents for not returning the empty containers. This is a broad daylight robbery!
“Another shocking thing is that even after the empty containers have been received by them and EIR (Empty interchange Report) collected: these shipping lines will still put in their books that they are being owed. A shipping line can accuse an lmporter/Agent of owing up to Two Hundred and Forty Million Naira on empty containers already in their possession that they are using.
“It also seems the Nigeria Shippers Council and the Manufactures Association of Nigeria (MAN) is oblivious of the situation.
“Many importers/Agents are disillusioned, and that is why some people have resorted to smuggling. People are dying in silence in this country as a result of activities of foreigners who came to rip-off the people in the name of investments.
“Importers pay to get quick access to the Ports. Some pay as high as hundred and fifty thousand Naira) per Truck.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to adress gridlock at the Apapa Port and give priority to road constructions, especially those within the port .
“It is about 4 years and 4 months that Apapa Port turned to nightmare as a result of the Gridlock firstly caused by Maerskline/APMT system hocking.
“I want to tell you that if there is a breakdown in the entry and exit of laden tucks for just a minute the kind of gridlock that will arise will be unprecedented not to talk of their system that went down for almost six weeks or more.
“The road should be handled by tested construction companies as Julius Berger to handle creek road linking TicanIsland with a mandate to deliver within two months to avoid the trauma that port users pass through on the road where the nation earns her second largest revenue”, he added.