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Corruption in Nigerian Ports: How SIFAX Terminal Frustrates Importers to impose High Charges

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By Innocent Orok

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council ( NSC)
and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) may be paying lip services to Nigerians, especially the ports users as both cannot tame the overbearing corruption and high changes perpetuated by Terminal Operators and foreign Shipping companies in Nigerian ports.

The duo of Terminal Operators and Shipping companies have turn themselves to octopus in the ports system creating obstacles and delays to frustrate easy evacuation of cargoes from the Nigerian ports, perpetrating this acts , they smile to the banks at the expense of the Nigerian people who bear the final cost of the goods in the market.

Hassan Bello, ES, Nigerian Shippers’ Council

Despite the efforts of the NSC to make sure goods leaves the ports as quickly as possible, even essential goods like pharmaceuticals which are given priority, its still take up to three months to move containers from the port.

Our Correspondent who have been working to unravel the delays in movement of containers in the last two months had stumble on a particular case where the Containers after paying duty cannot leave the Ports & Cargo Terminal at the Tin Can Island port for close to three months.
Meanwhile, both the Terminal owners Sifax Group and the Shipping company, Mediterranean Shipping Company ( MSC) were smiling to the bank to collect their demurrages.


According to the Shipping documents received my our reporter, a 6x 20ft containers of pharmaceutical products (drums of polymeric polyol, PPG 3601) with a Bill of Lading number MEDUKRO1651, with posting date as 27th, April 2020.
The Consignee name was Unique Pharmaceutical Limited and Agency name as Nsiantogod Global Limited.

The terminal, Port & Cargo owned by Sifax Group has given the importer 3rd April 2020 to 5th, April 2020 as free demurrage waiver period.
And the the importer begins the demurrage payment, first period 6/04- 6/05/2020 (30 days)N1,670,911.75.
Second demurrage payment 7/05-16/05/2020 , N387,000.
Third demurrage payment 24/05-5/06/2020,N141,900.
Fourth demurrage payment, 17/05-23/05/2020, N270,000, While the fifth payment was made from 06/05- 18/06/2020, N154,800, totalling N2,624,611.

On the part of the Shipping Company, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC),the demurrage and other shipping charges payment started from 28/04/2020 with N448,647.50, second payment, 07/05/2020, N639,137.50, while the third payment was made on the 13/05/2020, N1,354,650. Others are,29/05/2020,N279,550 and final payment on 10/06/2020, N301,050, making a total of N2,574,387 made to the Shipping company.

The consignments finally left the Port and Cargo Terminal on the 15th of June 2020, after spending more than two months in the Sifax Terminal.

On why the consignment has to stay that long in the Sifax Terminal accruing huge demurrage, an Agent to the Importer, Mr Ene Usanga was furious accusing the Sifax Terminal of frustrating him and dubiously charging him huge demurrage.
He said , the story the Terminal have been telling him was that there is no space for trucks to access the Terminal to pick his consignment, meanwhile they are charging him demurrage.

Usanga said his TDO has been raised and cancelled three times , because the truck was not able to access the Terminal. He lamented that his Client are asking him for refund, failure of which they will sue him to pay back those money he has collected besides the agreed amount.

Usanga who has vowed to challenge the fraudulent demurrage charged him by both the Terminal and the Shipping company due to their poor services, also said that, there is no reduction in the truck prices as claimed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC). He said the truck a forty foot, that carried the 2x20ft charged him N850,000 from the Tin Can Port to Fatai Atere, Mushin area of Lagos State.

“We are really suffering my brother, the Terminal Operators and Shipping companies in Nigeria are killing businesses in Nigeria and nobody is doing something about it. Even when I ran to my Association, ANLCA to help talk to Sifax, they could not help me. Now, am in a big problem with my client on a job I even put my own money to complete it. Pease you journalists should help us, we the Customs Agents are really suffering’ he lamented.

Meanwhile, our enquiries to the Spokesman of the Sifax Group, Mr Muyinwa Akande for over two weeks was not responded to.

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