The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS has been tasked to auction over 5,000 overtime containers to decongest the nation’s seaports.
Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko made the demand on Tuesday during an interactive session organised by the House of Representatives committee on Customs.
The National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents, NCMDLCA, also accused Customs of deliberately frustrating a presidential directive to transfer such consignments to the government warehouse in Ikorodu.
About overtime containers
Koko said there are over 5,000 overtime containers across the seaports in the country, with some occupying space over a year.
According to him, “The issue of free storage period is actually to forestall the use of the ports as a storage facility by importers,” he said.
“Let me also mention here, currently there are over 5,000 containers across the ports that are overtime cargo. A cargo is overtime after 90 days. Some of these containers are more than a year old. And when you leave these containers, they are also occupying space that would have been used for containers imported into the country.
“The containers are supposed to be evacuated to the Ikorodu terminal. Currently Ikorodu terminal has over 2,500 containers.
“The place is filled up; Nigeria customs has not auctioned containers to the best of our knowledge in recent times. So there is even no space for more containers.
“We have not seen any containers moved out of the Ikorodu terminal for auction in recent times. So there is a need for that to be done to free the ports of overtime cargo. Some of them have been there for many years. That is a major problem. If that can be handled, the terminals would be freer to receive more import and there will be more space for that.
“Ikorodu terminal when emptied, that means if customs is able to auctions these containers, it will now have more space for us to move overtime cargos to these locations.
“Not too long ago we had written to CG customs and we appreciate he took action. There were containers that over time we have seized in terminals that were containing explosives.
“The kind of explosives that created issues in the route. We heard that the remaining containers have just been taken away about a week ago. So we have many containers, they are jerry cans of petrol kept by Nigerian Customs at Ikorodu, we have written on that, so there is need for Nigerian customs to take action at Ikorodu so that all these items are taken out.”
Meanwhile, National President of the NCMDLCA, Lucky Amiwero, said that based on a letter to the presidency, a response was sent to the Customs to transfer such over time consignments to Ikorodu, a directly that is ignored by such of the Commands.
He called for sanctioned to be melted on any Command that fails to comply with the directive as such containers continue to occupy
What you need to know about overtime containers
A cargo is classified as overtime if it stays more than 90 days in the seaport after discharge from the ship and such cargoes are subject to seizure by Customs.