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APM terminals regrets abandonment of 616 export containers in Lagos Port

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LAGOS : The container terminal operator at the Apapa Port in Lagos at the weekend lamented that 616 containers containing export goods have spent about 1000 days inside the port without being shipped out.

Speaking during a working visit to the terminal by the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Pius Akutah, the Terminal Manager at APM Terminals, Apapa, Mr. Steen Knudsen explained that the terminal derives value from export cargoes when they arrive and are shipped within the best possible time out of the terminal by shipping companies.

According to Mr. Steen Knudson, “When export cargoes arrive and are shipped out of the terminal by the shipping companies within the shortest period, that is when we derive value from export operations. Not a situation where export boxes arrive and just sit here inside the port for years.

“As we speak, we have 616 export-laden containers that have spent between 31 days and 1000 days inside our terminal. This impacts our ability to receive more export containers because we have to do multiple re-handling of these export containers.

“There is a standard process which has been clearly defined by the relevant government agencies for export operations, but we still see that there is no strict compliance to this process.

“The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has established Export Processing Terminals (EPTs) to handle export goods, but we still see trucks carrying export cargoes heading straight to the port without going through these EPTs. and that’s why many of them get into the port and get abandoned because they have not gone through the normal process before entering the port.

“These export containers might not end up leaving the port because they have spent close to three years inside the port. Most of their contents would have lost value due to the long-standing.”

Responding to inquiries on why export cargoes that have not come through the EPTs are not been turned back, the APM Terminals, Apapa Terminal Manager explained that once a truck gets to the terminal gate, it is difficult to turn back due to the location of the container terminal.

“Once a truck bringing in an export container arrives at our gate, it is difficult to turn such a container back due to our location. It is when the container gets into the port and the various government agencies run necessary checks that it is discovered to have not gone through the right processes. At this point, it is left inside the port.

But what we have been able to do now is to extend that checking area up to the NPA Gate so that any truck that is coming in with an export container without going through normal process can be turned back from that point.

“These are the efforts we are trying to put in place to try and reduce the number of abandoned export containers inside the port terminal.

“There is no laid-down auction process for export containers by the Customs, and that’s why the abandoned containers have been inside the port for close to three years.

Assuring the container terminal operator of efforts to stop the incessant dumping of export containers at the port terminal, t, Barrister Pius Akutah promised to meet with all relevant agencies involved in export operations to see how the process can be streamlined to avoid a situation where export boxes are found to be wanting in some areas, and are then abandoned Inside the port by the exporters.

We will meet with the NPA and other relevant stakeholders involved in export to see how we can stop this abandoning of export boxes inside the port. In this period where the government is looking at improving the nation’s export potential, all hands must be on deck to ensure the nation gets full value from her export drive,” the NSC Executive Secretary/CEO stated.

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