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Freight Agents have continued to groan over the worsening condition of the road network in and out of the Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports, with an attendant astronomical rise in freight cost.
A renown administrator, Customs Agent and Chairman, Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents, (CMDCLA) Tin can Chapter, Alh. Isa Kazeem who spoke with today news said corruption and worsening gridlock caused by bad and dilapidated roads have adversely affected port businesses, leaving Customs Agents with holes in their pockets and lots of health challenges to grapple with.
The Chairman explained that before now, a 40ft container from the port to Alaba international costs between N250-300,000 but now, it goes for as much as N1.5m, because of the extortion from the presidential taskforce assigned to manage the situation but have instead, turned around to exploit the Agents and truck drivers. There is also a sharp increase from N900-N1.2m, from Tin Can to National, within two weeks. The same goes for containers going to Kano which was hitherto charged N900,000 but costs at least, N3 million now.
This, he attributed to the extortion, racketeering and a faulty call up system as handled by the NPA.
According to Alh.Kazeem, ” the call- up system by NPA is not working, the presidential taskforce made up of LASTMA, Police, NPA and other Government security Agencies have not helped the issue, you will spend at least N400,000 before you leave the access roads, that is why the prices of goods have skyrocketed. At Tin can, they charge more because the queues are not moving, you spend over 2weeks to beat the bad road.”
On what the Agents and their Associations are doing to help manage the situation, Kazeem says, ” first, we have tried to decongest the different terminals ridding them of overtime cargoes to Ikorodu government warehouse, the letter we got from the presidency is helping, first, we took 700 and later 500 overtime containers to Ikorodu government warehouse to the dismay of terminal operators.
Continuing, he said, ” last two weeks, when I resumed duty at Tin can, we wrote to the DSS, Police and Terminal Operators that such overtime cargoes should be taken to Ikorodu government warehouse.
Explaining how they intend to ameliorate the traffic situation at Tin can end, Kazeem said, they have met with the NPA traffic manager, where the plan to constitute a taskforce to decongest Mile2 to Tin Can by next week, with the help of the NPA and other security Agencies was given vent to.
Going further, he said one other notable problem is the excessive handling charges at 5Star Logistics without actually loading the vehicles, thereby, making Agents pay for their inefficiency.
Recall that various media reports making the rounds have attributed the long queues of trucks trying to access the ports to extortions at various points by the presidential taskforce but now this has been repeatedly denied by them, even with full proof evidence of their two hands right inside the Cookie jar.