Terminal Operators Have Justification to Raise Charges — Farinto

Former Acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, has said that rising cost of diesel, declining value of the naira and high rate of inflation, among other factors, justify the need for upward review of terminal operators’ charges.

“We all know that the indices of working in the port now are not as it used to be and things have changed. The terminal operators too are Nigerians and if we juxtapose what is happening vis-a-vis the fact that there has been increment in prices of fuel and the dollar has risen, so there has to be a rise in their charges too. We are in an era where you cannot predict the dollar and these people are rendering services so it becomes inevitable for them to increase. Nobody should be criticised for that. But I want to commend them because they are coming late in increasing their charges because I know that if it were to be the old operators, they would have increased the charges but they took their time before they did this. There is nothing anyone can do about it,” he said.

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Farinto also charged the Federal Government to repair the dilapidated port access roads to reduce the hardship faced by importers and their agents.

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“Government has failed in their responsibility ab initio to even provide the services they need to provide. What are these services? It was in the concession agreement that the government will provide electricity 24/7 but this has not been made available. It is still the same terminal operators that are providing electricity so government must go back and do that. Secondly, government must put in place all the roads that are dilapidated particularly the access road to the seaports and I have also said it that it is high time we delineated the port area. As we speak, we do not know which area is the port area and that is why we have miscreants encroaching on port area.

“If I were in government, I will say, let us delineate the port area. Let us start from Ijora and if it’s along Mile 2, port area starts from Mile 2. After delineating the port area, they will also do geo-fencing so as to monitor the port area. These are the things government need to put in place so that the properties of people are secured.

“If government is able to perform its responsibility, there will be no dollarisation of collecting money from terminal operators. This is because as the terminal operators pay in dollars, they will also transfer the increase to storage tariff.

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“This government should fulfill their promise to us. They told us they are going to give mitigants that will cushion the effect of the hardship experienced by the people. If I were the government now, part of the mitigant is to make sure that any terminal operator that wants to pay should pay in the equivalent of naira and not pay in dollars, which is not predictable now,” he said.

He also commended the government for lifting the forex ban on 43 items, which could hitherto not access foreign exchange on the official market. He said the ban caused inflation and “encouraged false declaration in cargo clearance”.

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