Clearing agents claim that the nation could potentially have suffered a loss of more than N300bn due to the presence of 7445 overtime cargoes scattered throughout local ports.
Nigerian Ports Authority, in a statement, said of the 7,445 overtime cargoes, 3,200 were cars, while 3,295 were cargoes littering the country’s ports and terminals in Lagos, including Tincan, Apapa, Ikorodu, among others.
It added that the eastern port alone had 956 over-time cargoes.
NPA, while announcing the commencement of evacuation of overtime cargoes recently, said, “Over time, Lagos and Tincan Island Port complexes and the terminals, including Ikorodu Lighter Terminals have been occupied with 3,200 units of overtime cars and about 3,295 units of overtime containers, respectively, while the eastern ports have a combined total of 956 overtime containers.”
It also said that the situation was constraining the terminal’s strength.
However, analysing the cost implications of the volume of overtime cargoes, a maritime research group, Sea Empowerment Research Centre, in a chat with the PUNCH, said the full value of the cargoes cannot be recovered when auctioned.
The Head of Research at SEA Centre, Dr Eugene Nweke, said, “Estimated minimum revenue due to the government is N22.7b, estimated minimum shippers investment trapped is N105b, an estimated minimum professional fees loss is N1.4b. Estimated minimum shipping companies & terminal operators profit trapped is N4.5b, while estimated minimum truckers earnings trapped is N1.7b and the total minimum estimation is N135.3bn.”
Nweke also said that 40 per cent of the 7445 overtime cargoes were 40ft containers.
“Findings show that 40 per cent of the 7000 TEUs are 40ft containers as opposed to the 20ft container equivalent units used for general estimation. The implication is that the approximate financial involvement is as well over N300b at stake. It could be estimated that about N100b due to the government is at stake. Half of this or less may be recovered via auction sales,” he claimed.
Nweke, who is also a former president of the National Association of Government-Approved Freight Forwarders, said the trapped cargo was stippling currency in circulation.
Also, the Acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Kayode Farinto, said that the volume of overtime cargoes at the port was limiting space for terminal operations.
“They need to decongest the ports because it is occupying space and the terminal operators will not have space. Some of them the government can auction. It can even be used as a palliative now that there is an economic crunch.
“It is the individuals who are losing and not the government. Some of these vehicles are abandoned or they have one case or the other. Out of those cargoes, duty has been paid on about 20 per cent. So, the government has not lost anything.
“The government should auction it out to the masses. The worth can’t be anything less than N200bn and if that is injected into the economy, it will go a long way in helping the economy,” he declared.
The Deputy President of NAGAFF, Mr Nnadi Ugochukwu, said having such a volume of overtime cargoes was added costs to terminal operators.
“And apart from that, many businesses are being destroyed. Even terminal operators and shipping companies are losing. Some of these importers took loans from the banks and when these goods are trapped, the importers lost their investments,” he noted.
Nandi, who is also a member of the presidential task team on overtime cargoes, said that most of the affected containers were already decomposing.
“And it will affect shipping companies and terminal operators, which have refused to wave demurrages. In the end, they will lose the containers and the deposit.
“Also, Customs are not helping issues. The law says that after some days it becomes overtime. The law didn’t say that is it no longer the importers’ property. But after that manipulated days, if the importers want to clear the containers, Customs will make it more frustrating, and they will incur more demurrages. This is the implication of such things and it is very unfortunate. It is a colossal economic loss to the country. Everyone is losing,” he explained.