New Telegraph

Waiver: 60 containers of agricultural equipment trapped at Lagos Port

About 60 containers of agricultural ewuipment belonging to Josepdam Port Service, operator of terminal A, at the Tin Can Island Port complex, have been trapped for three years over disagreement between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and its supervisory ministry, Federal Ministry of Finance.

 

 

Investigation revealed that the Ministry of Finance had granted Josepdam waiver on some agricultural equipment imported into the country but, the Nigeria Customs Service refused to release those containers.

 

NCS in reaction, said that the equipment was granted the waiver in error by the Ministry of Finance. Speaking to our Correspondent, 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 had asked    the NCS to release the cargoes since they are agricultural items to be used for conveying Wheat, Malt and other items to the silos. He said: “The Ministry of Finance has given us a waiver that covers all our equipment that is on ground and the ones outside out terminal, TICT and Port and Cargo. ”

 

We have accrued so much demurrage on them due to this releasing 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 Ministry of Finance query.”

 

Kuteyi further disclosed 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.

 

“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. “Also, there is no reason not to release the containers because we have paid the duties on them.

 

He further said: “They want us to pay duty on items that have already been granted 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 the Customs Comptroller General but, the customs kept telling us the items are not agricultural items or not for agricultural storage which we have countered so many time.” Kuteyi said, ,“We have a legal waiver so, no reason for holding on to the containers.

 

All together, we have 60 containers with the service that is yet to be released, we have 50 in our terminals, five in TICT and five with Port and Cargo terminal. The about 50 containers we have in our custody, we can’t touch it and we are trying to bring those at other terminals inside so that they will can stop charging us for storage.

 

“I appeal to the Ministry of Finance to prevail on Customs to release the containers so that we can start our installation, we can start mounting our silos and fixing the purveyors and Vigan. ”

 

We want the Finance Ministry to put pressure on Customs to release our cargoes,” he stated. Responding, the Public Relations Officer, Tin-Can Island Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Uche Ejiesieme said the command’s CAC has informed the headquarters that the waiver was given to the terminal operator in error.

 

He said, “With respect to the issue of Josepdam, the command believed that the import duty exemption certificate granted the company under agriculture concession may have been in error, hence the dispute.

 

“However, as a proactive measure and in line with trade facilitation principles, the Customs Area Cotroller has escalated the issue to Customs Headquarters for resolution and we await the decision of the Headquarters on this issue that has gone beyond the command.”

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