- We pay N1.5million to release each container – Tanko
Alleged nefarious activities of Maritime Police Division of Nigeria Police Force, have seen over 1800 containers stuck at Lagos ports having been flagged down for investigation by the police division.
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100% Compliance Team revealed this yesterday amid a 2-hour protest at Apapa port over unfair practices.
Speaking with journalists after the protest, the National Coordinator, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim indicted the police division for conniving with shipping companies to get information of consignments and arbitrarily intercept cargo clearance.
News Diet recalls that the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Hon. Adegboyega Oyetola CON, recently lamented that over 6,000 overtime containers are currently trapped at Lagos ports having been jettisoned by the shippers.
Tanko, however, expressed displeasure as he posited that the activities of Maritime Police are primarily geared towards extortion as freight agents and shippers part with a minimum of N1.5million for each container flagged down by the police.
His words: “At the moment, there are over 1800 containers trapped within the Western ports as a result of sharp practices of Maritime Police. For each container, Police collects N1.5million before releasing it and most times there is no reason for intercepting the containers in the first place. Some containers cost as must as N4.5million to be released, but the cheapest the Police collect per container is N1.5million”
“We wrote letters to the Police IG, and other stakeholders at the ports about this problem. We notified port stakeholders that this protest will happen two weeks ago and we followed-up with a reminder, but nobody engaged us for any meeting or dialogue. There are numerous issues but the major one is the Maritime Police. After freight forwarders clear containers from the ports, we are harassed on the roads by this police division. They seize the containers and take it to their barracks.”
According to him, the Maritime Police connivance is with shipping companies as they also block the containers even before they are released by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), leading to additional demurrage and storage charges on the consignments.
“Their connivance is with shipping companies to extort monies from us, especially Lagos and Niger shipping company. We are also subjected to paying the demurrage that accrues from the delay while resolving any issue with the police. We aren’t against the Police carrying out any investigation on consignments if they insist it is their job; but we are no longer going to be held liable for the demurrage and additional charges during their investigations,” he lamented.
Tanko warned that the freight forwarding group is at the verge of dragging the matter to court, stressing that this may be the most effective way to address the issue if pleas, dialogue and protests fail.
“We recognize that ports are sensitive areas, that’s why we have been more open to dialogue and deliberations instead of protests.”
“It is sad that we keep engaging our members to go about their business the right way, yet those doing port business the right way are being frustrated by the Police,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, he noted that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and AP Moller Terminal Apapa have called for an emergency meeting with the aggrieved freight agents over the issue on Monday, next week.
Efforts by our correspondent to get reactions from the Police were futile until presstime as the Police National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Benjamin Hundeyin couldn’t answer calls or reply text messages.