says Nigeria has become a dump site for expired empty containers
By Jerry Aguigbo
The electronic call-up system designed by the Nigerian Ports Authority to eliminate traffic bottleneck around the port access corridors which commenced on the 27th, February 2021, has brought with it, lots of optimism to residents as well as business men and women who on daily bases besiege the port.
Speaking on the hardship and injustice suffered by Customs Licensed brokers and other business people using the ports on daily basis, the MD/ CEO MacManuel Global Logistics, Comrade Emeka Enwelu, described their experience as harrowing,, the access to the port is hectic,, not to talk of how much in terms of Naira and Kobo that’s lost on this traffic bottleneck. ” We paid exorbitantly for our containers to leave the ports to the owners’ warehouses, it appeared as if those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring safe passage to the ports have shanked their duties; our container deposits are not refunded, even when we paid between N200-400,000 as deposits, they are no longer claimed because there was no chance you could return their empties before the stipulated time, the shipping companies capitalised on the gridlock to swindle Nigerians and the Shippers’ Council didn’t help, they and other government agencies appeared not to have any ideas.”
According to Comrade Enwelu, “we have not lost only money, human lives have been lost, there is hardly any clearing Agent here in Apapa who has not lost an employee, a colleague, a friend or a bother to this Hydra headed monster. Since we can’t move around with our car, we have no choice, the dare devil bikers are there at your beck and call, you can’t do without bikes in Apapa, even with the dangers, the bike riders are often times influenced with alcohol, and drugs. So if the e- Call- up system is going to solve this decade long suffering, we will welcome it,” he enthused.
Going back memory lane, Enwelu says “there was a time before 2009 when one could drive in and out of Apapa without stress but the spiralling decay started between 2009 and 2010, it became impossible, I can’t really say why the FG allowed this to fester.”
On what can be done to ameliorate or manage the situation , he says, ” it’s good the NPA is trying to find a way around this, asking the shipping companies to pick up their empties at container bays provided by the they, the shipping companies is great, the Shippers’ Council should stop this ” sit down look” attitude, they also should stand up to their responsibilities, the terminal operators are ripping us off. The authorities should find a way to manage the situation, for instance, after repairing a particular section of the access road, they should open it up for motorists to ply, not insisting to have it closed until the entire road is ready for commissioning. Look at Mile 2, to TiCan, the 2 lanes are almost finished yet it’s still blocked, why? They should open it up to help those suffering on that axis.”
Continuing on the activities of the shipping companies, he says the shipping companies are supposed to go back with empty containers on board their ships but they go back without them, ” most of the containers brought into Nigeria are expired and they come here to dump them. The FG should make it mandatory for shipping companies to pick and go back with empty containers, because they turning our ports into dumping grounds, ” the Comrade advised.
On the claims of having holding bays by shipping companies, he says, ” nobody can ascertain this claim but I will advice the NPA to properly manage and control the E- call- up system, the shippers’ Council should also regulate the shipping companies, yes! They are supposed to regulate the shipping companies and the terminal operators but they have not taken the bull by the horn; Maerskline for instance, charges us N200-4000 to drop the containers which is not supposed to be, the shippers’ Council should be up and doing, if they are to be taken seriously as a regulator, they are watching us suffering while terminal operators smile to the bank everyday., he lamented.