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24 vessels stuck on Lagos waters, waiting to berth

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Just days into the New Year, the volume of vessels stuck on the Lagos waters is increasing, even as the port terminal reels under intense congestion.
   
Currently, about 24 ships are waiting to berth at the Lagos pilot anchorage due to the cumbersome documentation process by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
   
The Guardian gathered that the volume of cargoes coming through the seaports has increased tremendously owing to the lingering closure of the land borders.

 
Statistics from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), obtained by The Guardian yesterday showed that the vessels were tagged: CRNAPP, meaning, Customs Release Not Applicable (West Coast).

The vessels, mostly laden with containerised cargo, also have wheat, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, and base oil among others, are currently waiting to berth upon Customs approval.
   
However, about 21 more ships are expected at the Lagos Pilotage District, between now and January 28th, with five of them laden with petrol and others conveying fish, sugar, general cargo, base oil, salt, gypsum, and containerised cargoes.
   
Recall that the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), recently called on the Federal Government to urgently direct vessels on the Lagos, Port Harcourt, Onne anchorages to other seaports, to avoid congestion.
   
National President, ANLCA, Uju Tony Nwabunnike, said ships waiting to berth in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Onne ports are accumulating, and therefore need to be immediately diverted to other ports.
 
He said: “We observe that a lot of ships are presently waiting to berth in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Onne, thereby attracting trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles to these areas.
   
“This development has not only hampered free movement of cargo laden trucks, but it is also impacting adversely on the ongoing port access road construction,” he noted. Nwabunnike said apart from causing loss of revenue to the government, the situation can also lead to unemployment and slow national economic growth.
   
“We hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct that ships waiting on Lagos and Port Harcourt anchorages be diverted within a period of three months to ports in Warri, Delta State, and Calabar, Cross River State,” he said.
   
According to him, Nigerian-bound cargoes are presently being diverted to Duala Port, Cameroun, due to the long waiting period and cargo owners’ desire for quick turnaround time for vessels. He said shippers and cargo owners are very conscious about ships turnaround time, and will likely embrace opportunities for quicker discharge of cargoes.
   
He argued that if the government could divert those vessels to other ports in Nigeria, this would aid the Ease of Doing Business, reduce the number of trucks on some port access roads, and allow speedy execution of the ongoing construction along the ports road corridor.
   
“It will also help in averting avoidable congestion with adverse effects in Lagos and Port Harcourt ports.
 
“This action requires some urgency before we enter another rainy season when construction work may be slowed down, as it could lead to massive job losses if not approved and implemented.“It will also make for even distribution of maritime trade among cities where ports are domiciled while opening the economy to fresh business opportunities,” he said.


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