By Steve Agbota
The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has said that the transfer of overtime cargoes from the ports to the government warehouse in Ikorodu is not the responsibility of Customs but the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Cargoes are classified as overtime when they have stayed in the port for 28 days without the importer or clearing agent coming up to clear them and take delivery.
Controller of the Command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, who spoke when he received executive members of the Shipping Correspondent Association of Nigeria (SCAN) who paid him a courtesy visit in his office last week, said it requires a lot in terms of logistics and financial commitment to move overtime cargoes from the port to the government warehouse in Ikorodu.
According to him, there are currently about 500 overtime containers including import and export at the Apapa port and it would cost an average of N600, 000 to move each of the containers from the port to Ikorodu.
The Customs boss explained that there are laid down procedures for disposal of overtime cargoes that must be followed before they are auctioned to avoid litigation.
“Moving containers to Ikorodu terminal entails a lot of logistics and financial commitment. To take one container from here to Ikorodu will cost at least N600, 000 and above. Now if we are moving 500 containers to Ikorodu, how much will that translate into? However, we have a series of procedures before it comes to moving containers and even moving containers to Ikorodu is the responsibility of the NPA not Customs.
“Customs will make sure that they receive unclaimed cargo lists from the shipping companies and the terminal operators then they will now examine those unclaimed cargo lists after the free storage period. After examination, they will leave it for a certain number of days for importers to come and claim their cargo. After the date expires, they will send it for gazetting by the court because of litigation, when the court gazettes it, it will now go for auction.
“After the auction, people will now go online to bid for the items. In most cases, those consignments that will find out that they are going to be outrightly seized and they are consumables, we give them to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through a presidential committee, not even Customs. So, these are the procedures, it is not that Customs will just come and start carrying overtime cargo and start dropping it at Ikorodu for auction,” he said.