The Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) has bemoaned the poor and shoddy manner containers are stacked at Apapa and Tin-Can ports, calling for an electronic stacking regime at Nigerian seaports.
Speaking to newsmen in an interview, the Managing Director of ICNL, Ismail Yusuf explained that locating containers inside the ports are always difficult for cargo owners due to the way containers are scattered inside the port terminals.
According to the ICNL Managing Director, “a major problem at our ports in Lagos is the way and manner operators stack containers. When a truck gets into the ports, it takes hours before a container is located because the containers are scattered everywhere.
“There is much more to do for our regulators in terms of proper arrangement of containers inside the port terminals. Many of the containers are not properly arranged for easy location and carriage. This is not so in saner climes.
“We were in South Africa; I did not even see any Customs officer inside the ports. When I asked them how they pay the duty, they said duty is paid electronically even before the cargoes arrive the ports in South Africa. The only people we met inside the ports in South Africa are the truck drivers and the terminal operators. All the containers were stacked electronically. The driver will just go to where the containers are stacked and pick it up. Compared to Nigeria where containers are scattered everywhere.”
On how ICNL evacuates cargoes from the ports in Lagos to Kano and Kaduna, the ICNL MD explained that “when the hinterland container terminals were established in Kano and Kaduna, the best practice of cargo evacuation from the ports in Lagos has always been through the rail. That is what we started within the ’80s when the hinterland terminals were established by ICNL in Kano and Kaduna.
“However, due to capacity challenges that bedevilled the nations rail sector over the years, we began to tilt towards more of road evacuation of cargoes from the Lagos ports than rail. Presently, as I am talking to you, we do road evacuation of cargoes from Lagos to Kano and Kaduna. If the rail comes back due to recent efforts of the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, we will shift back to rail because it is cheaper and more efficient.
“On a daily basis, we move about fifty containers from the ports to Kano and Kaduna. In a week, we move about 300 to 400 containers up North from Lagos. On a monthly basis, we move about 1000 and 1,200 containers from the ports in Lagos up North. It’s cheaper if this is done through rail, but as I said, the rail sector currently lacks the capacity to meet with our demand, so we currently do all this through the roads.”