• Abandoned 4,837 export containers at Apapa port causes stir

    Abandoned 4837 export containers at apapa port causes stir - nigeria newspapers online
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    * Shippers’ Council to expedite clearance of trapped export containers
    * Shipping lines to evacuate 2,752 containers in five days

    The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has vowed to take urgent actions to streamline export procedures, promote ease of documentation for exporters and lead the removal of 4,837 overdue export containers abandoned at Apapa port for years.

    Speaking during a visit to the APM Terminals yard in Apapa Port, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Pius Akutah, expressed concern over the growing number of export containers abandoned at the port due to exporters’ non-compliance with regulatory guidelines.

    The Guardian learnt that 1,940 containers have been at Apapa Port for between zero and 10 days, 1,524 containers for 11 to 20 days while 757 containers have lasted for 21 to 30 days. Not fewer than 616 have spent between 31 days and two years, with the terminal categorised the containers as abandoned export containers.

    Akutah announced that the Council would organise a stakeholder engagement to bring every player in the value chain together to address the complexity of export regulations that have led to these delays and congestion at the ports.

    Akutah emphasised the urgency of the actions, noting that the current situation hampers economic development, especially as the government seeks to boost exports to earn foreign currency.

    He also highlighted the need to implement a mechanism to prevent export containers, which have not completed the necessary documentation, from entering the port to avoid the accumulation of overdue cargo.

    The Government Relations Manager at APM Terminals, Kayode Daniel, said besides the long-standing containers, numerous others face varying degrees of delay due to non-compliance with procedures by exporters.

    He also noted that terminal operations are hindered by repeated handling of export boxes which remain unshipped due to incomplete documentation. Daniel said the terminals have been advocating for the evacuation of these trapped export containers and had received commitments from shipping lines, including Maersk, CMA CGA, and Zim, to move about 2,752 export containers out of the port within the next five days.

    Also speaking, the Terminal Manager at APM Terminals, Steen Knudsen, pointed out the challenges in enforcing shipping schedules due to irregularities in documentation discovered only at the final stages.

    He said that technically an export container is not supposed to stay within the port terminal for more than seven days since all shipping lines come to Apapa on a weekly frequency.

    However, Knudsen clarified that the terminal operator cannot mandate the shipping line to load the container because it is an arrangement strictly between the exporter, Customs, and the shipping line.

    “Most of these containers arrive at the port as ‘good to go,’ but only when they reach the port do Customs and other authorities discover some missing elements, which prevents the shipping line from loading them,” he explained. He emphasised that service providers, the Shippers’ Council, Customs, the Nigerian Ports Authority, and other stakeholders need to collaborate to improve the export process in Nigerian ports.

    Legal perspectives were also shared by the General Manager of Legal at APM Terminals, Chinenye Deinde, who stressed the importance of dissecting the entire export value chain to pinpoint and resolve inefficiencies. She clarified that the contractual obligations between exporters and shipping lines are crucial and must be honoured to ensure the smooth lifting of containers.

    She noted that the clearance needed for export involves not only regulatory or governmental approval but also the requirement that shippers pay the freight for the shipping line to lift the container.

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