…We Can Scan 300 Containers A Day, Says Customs
The National Coordination of the Presidential Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), Mr. Moses Fadipe has expressed disappointment with the management of the APMT Apapa Terminal for failing to adhere strictly to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as contained in Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) with regards to Joint Examination of Cargo in the APMT Terminal.
He warned that APMT and all others involved in the subversion of the NPPM at the terminal must take correction immediately or be ready to face the wrath of the law as contained in the Business Facilitation Act 2022.
Fadipe who stated this in a meeting with stakeholders (port operators and users) in Apapa, disclosed that when the PSTT took off in March 23, 2021, there was a trajectory of sensitization of operators on what the Nigeria Port Process Manual is all about, adding that part of its provisions is the joint examination of cargo at the Nigeria ports terminals by all the approved government agencies.
The PSTT National Coordinator disclosed that even though the Task Team commenced implementation of the NPPM stipulations on joint cargo examination at the APMT in November 2021, “and we succeeded in instituting the culture of strict adherence to the joint examination of cargo at the terminal before we moved to other ports, recent reports of reversion to the old order of unregulated practice has forced us to return to the terminal in full force to ensure that the right thing is done always in the terminal,” he said.
According to him, PSTT does not do anything outside that national document, the NPPM. “We are not operating from nowhere. It is now an offence for you not to give the service you said you will give and it must be given within the time you said you will give it, hence service failure is now a punishable offence under the Business Facilitation Act 2022,” Fadipe restated.
He noted the complaints by port users that APMT has failed in recent times to position containers for examination at the stipulated time which the NPPM says must be the night before. Also, it was alleged that APMT does not open the terminal at the stipulated time and cargo examination does not start till about 11:00 am to 12:00 noon contrary to the 9:00 am NPPM stipulated.
Fadipe stated that he is completely uncomfortable with the development and said that the attitude of APMT is capable of ruining the gains the country has so far made on Ease of Doing Business in the Nigerian ports.
He warned APMT to retrace its steps that are headed in the wrong direction and abide by the rules, saying he will immediately deploy his men to the scanning site to monitor and ensure strict adherence to the rules.
The Customs Deputy Comptroller in-charge of APMT Apapa Terminal, Mr. Isa Aliyu who agreed that there delays, however said that they delays was not caused by the Nigeria Customs Service as they were always ready from 8 30 am to do their work, saying the terminal is not opened in good time, sometimes opened as late as 12 noon.
Other Customs officials at the meeting insisted that the delays had nothing to do with them, alleging that the terminal was never opened in time, and examination does not start till 11 to 12:00noon. “We are always here by 8:00am. The Agents come and call us when they are ready because we cannot examine their containers in their absence because there might be one or explanations we might seek from them in the course of the examination.
On scanning customs said their machine has capacity to scan 300 boxes per day and they can work seven days a week but APMT seems lacking in the operational capacity to meet up with this existing scanning capacity of customs and the scanning machine.
When the PSTT undertook a tour of the scanning site, it was observed that it took a long interval before APMT could send in a container for scanning a development the Clearing Agents attributed to APMT’s low capacity in its fleet of Mafi Trucks which take the containers from their yard to the scanning site. The customs officer in-charge of the scanning disclosed that it takes three minutes to scan a container, emphasising that the scanner has the capacity to scan 300 containers per day while the maximum they have ever done was 195 containers.
The APMT representative at the meeting, Mr. Kayode Samuel, however disclosed that there were operational glitches that caused the perceived failure. He promised that noticeable improvement will be seen as the problem has been resolved.
He further said that there is the need for the terminal to be provided with more than one scanning machine as one scanning machine is insufficient.
But port users condemned APMT for making excuses, saying the site using cargo examination had been in a deplorable condition since 2021.
They also disclosed that APMT does not have capacity and cannot be able to meet up with the 300 containers scanning capacity, saying it takes APMT an interval of 30 minutes before it positions a container for scanning.