Monday, February 16, 2015

Terminals hit with low activities as import volume drops

The postponed general election and the depreciating value of the Nigerian currency are factors that have combined to work against international trade especially importation of consumer goods into the country.

This revelation came to the fore last week when the Area Controller, Lilypond Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Mustapha Atiku held his maiden press conference.

Speaking at the event, Commercial Officer, Lilypond Container Terminal, Mr. Kayode Daniels said that the low level of activities was not peculiar to Lilypond but also prevalent at other terminals including the nation’s premiere port, Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.

He attributed the low business activities to a drop in volume of imported cargo into the country.

“Mearsk Line’s volume is 30 percent less than what they did in 2014. Market is slow; market is stagnant. We have done extensive market research with our customers and we find out that market is not moving.

“It is slow. Their (importers’) complaint is that their warehouses are still stocked and there was no way they could import.

“More so, people are not spending and when people don’t spend, it will be difficult to bring in imports. So these are the challenges that are leading to the drop in volume,” he said.

He assured that the terminal has identified some customers who could help in boosting cargo volume so that the command will realize its revenue target.

The Command’s Customs Area Controller, on his part, said that the terminal had been hard hit as very few containers are now being stemmed to the facility.

He said the year started on a shaky note as the command’s revenue has taken a plunge.

Atiku said out of a monthly target of N1.9billion, the command was been able to collect only N852 million in January and has so far collected N198 million in February. He expressed doubt over the command’s ability to realize in February what it collected in January.

While apologizing for not meeting earlier with the stakeholders, Atiku said, “nothing could be achieved without the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.”

He also appealed to clearing agents operating at the command to embrace genuine and honest declarations in their customs documentation so as to speed up the clearance of their consignments.

When SHIPS & PORTS DAILY visited some terminals inside the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), it was discovered that almost all the terminals were suffering as a result of what one of the operators called “importer apathy”.

“It is not looking good at all. We did about 32 percent less than the volume we handled at this time last year. I do not think activities will pick up until after the elections,” one of the general cargo terminal operators at TCIPC told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

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