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Clearing Agents Threaten To Shut Ports Across The Nation Over Charges

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The ongoing strike action embarked upon by
clearing agents at the APM terminals in Lagos
state in protest of purppoted high charges and
poor services by terminal operators, might as
well turn into a nationwide strike by all seaports
before the week runs out.

image

The entrance of Tincan Port Apapa Lagos state.
Photo credit:Punch)

The strike which started since Monday,
November 3, 2014, has led to the obstruction of
the APM terminals and they threthen to take
extend the strike action across the nation after a
joint meeting on Friday, November 14, 2014.
A nationwide strike by customs agents and
freight forwarders was necessary owing to the
undearable huge sums they were compelled to
pay by terminal operators, shipping agencies
and government regulatory agencies, said the
President, Association of Nigeria Licensed
Customs Agents, Mr. Olayiwola Shittu.
Shittu accused government agencies like the
National Agency for Food and Drug
Administration and Control, National
Environmental Standards and Regulations
Enforcement Agency, Nigeria Agricultural
Quarantine Service and Standards Organisation
of Nigeria of arbitrarily charging the customs
agents and freight forwarders.
He said, “All regulatory agencies like NESREA,
SON, NAFDAC and NAQS are all making money
illegally under the guise of internally generated
revenue.
“Imagine a situation where NAFDAC, without any
warning, increases all its charges by 100 per
cent. Formerly, if you want to register a product
that you plan to import into Nigeria with
NAFDAC, it used to be N400,000; now it is
N2m.This is what we are suffering from agencies
that are appropriated funds annually by the
National assembly.
“SON is just as guilty. Now they are charging
N20,000 per vehicle to carry out pre-shipment
inspection of used vehicles. They started this
from November 1, 2014. They also charge
N3,500 for every 20 feet container that comes
into the country and N7,000 for every 40 feet
container; they call it handling fee. All these
charges are illegal and will eventually translate
to high cost of goods for the end user.”
The president further disclosed that efforts
made by clearing agents to reach a compromise
with the management all proved abortive as the
complaint letters written to them were
vehemently ignored which made the next option
to be a strike action.
He described the strike at the APM terminals as
a rehearsal of what would eventually happen
nationwide if the Federal Government failed to
intervene.
He added that a detailed report of all illegal
charges at the ports had been prepared and
would be sent to the President for his
consideration before the agents and freight
forwarders would withdraw their services.
Meanwhile, a meeting had been scheduled for
the national executives of ANLCA and the
National Association of Government Approved
Freight Forwarders on Wednesday, November
12, 2014 to discuss the way forward.
“We are going to give an ultimatum and after
that start the strike to bring government’s
attention to what is happening at our ports,”
Shittu said.
The spokeman for the Seaport Terminal
Operators Association of Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji
Akinola said, “The blockade of the APM
Terminals is simply a reckless act capable of
hurting the nation’s economy. STOAN is calling
on the police, NPA and other concerned
authorities to clear the blockade and allow those
who wish to clear their cargoes at the affected
terminal to have access to it.”

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