Nigeria’s exports sector threatened as 4,817 containers are trapped at Lagos port

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portThe drive by the government to raise its non-oil revenue may have come under threat as no less than 4,817 containers fully loaded with export goods are currently trapped at the Lagos port.

Vanguard findings show that out of this, 616 have been abandoned for over three years, thereby worsening the fate of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the export business.

Meanwhile, the shippers and their agents, terminal operators, shipping lines, are now locked in counter accusations over the cause of the delay even as the Nigeria Shippers Council, NSC, has summoned stakeholders’ meeting to address the problem leading to the trapping of the containers.

Following complaints by shippers and their agents over trapped export containers, APM Terminal said that it has convinced shipping giant, Maersk shipping line, to evacuate 1,900 of trapped containers from their facility by Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

This was made known in Lagos over the weekend when the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Shippers Council, Pius Akutah, paid a working visit to APM Terminal.

Explaining the reason for the delay, the Government Relations Manager of APM Terminal, Kayode Daniel, said some of the containers that were allowed into the terminal did not get clearance from Customs to be loaded onboard vessels for export.

According to him, “Despite following all the laid down processes, we still end up with a situation where containers stay in the port longer than expected.”

The Shippers Council boss had earlier decried the time wasted at the port by export cargo, especially at a time when the federal government is looking at diversifying the economy.

Also speaking at the meeting, Deputy Director, Consumers Services, NSC, Celestine Akunjobi, wondered why the shipping line had to wait for APM Terminal’s intervention before agreeing to pick the cargoes, claiming that the delay was a deliberate action on the part on the shipping lines.

In his words, “You just told us now that Maersk Shipping Line will be shipping about 2,000 of these containers in the next couple of days; it means that the problem is not with the shippers but the shipping lines because once they move 1,900 containers out of that number, what is left will be insignificant.”

Responding, General Manager, Legal of APM Terminal, Chinenye Deinde, said it would be wrong to blame the shipping lines since they were not present in the meeting, noting that it would be right to hear from the shipping lines over the delay in picking up export boxes from the terminal.

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