By Steve Agbota
About 60 containers of agricultural equipment have been trapped for three years over disagreement between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its supervisory ministry, Federal Ministry of Finance.
The containers belong to Josepdam Port Service, operator of terminal A, at the Tin Can Island Port complex in Lagos.
Investigation has showed that the Ministry of
Finance has granted Josepdam waiver on some agricultural equipment imported into the country, but the Customs Service has refused to release those containers thereby accruing storage charges at other terminals and demurrage on the containers.
The equipment, which were basically for the construction of silos in the terminal were still trapped, thereby affecting the efficiency of the terminal.
However, the Customs Service said the waiver was granted the company in error by the Ministry of Finance.
Speaking on the development, the Deputy Managing Director, Josepdam, Ganiyu Kuteyi, lamented the storage and demurrage charges accrued by the operator for the past three years.
According to him, the ministry have asked Customs to release the cargoes since they are agricultural items to be used for conveying wheat, malt and other items into the silos.
“The Ministry of Finance has given us a waiver that covers all our equipment that is on ground including the one that are outside our terminal, TICT , Port and Cargo.
“We have accrued so much demurrage on them due to this issue. Customs are refusing to release the items and the Ministry of Finance has questioned Customs on why they haven’t released those items and they are still unable to respond to the query,” he added.
Kuteyi explained that the finance ministry has directed the service to release the equipment if they have no response to the query on why the equipment shouldn’t be released.
His words: “The Ministry of Finance has, however, said if the Customs can’t respond and give accurate answers to the query, then they should release the consignment but, they are yet to release it. Also, there is no reason not to release the containers because we have paid the duties to be paid on them.
“They want us to pay duty on items that are already waived by the Ministry of Finance and I can tell you that the items are agricultural items, they are for conveying wheat, malt and other items into the silos that we are about to install.
“We have discussed with the Tin-Can Island Customs Area Controller (CAC), and we believe the Ministry of Finance will engage the Customs Comptroller General. But, the Customs keep telling us the items are not agricultural items or not for agricultural storage which we have countered so many time,” he said.