The Nigeria Customs Service said it will soon start the auction of overtime containers.
The spokesperson for the Nigeria Customs Service, Jospeh Attah, disclosed told correspondent in a telephone interview.
He was speaking in reaction to accusation by seaport terminal operators that the NCS had deprived them of the 25 per cent statutory charge of the value of auctioned containers.
The operators, in a statement by their spokesperson, Mr Bolaji Akinola, lamented that for several years, Customs had failed to keep to the agreement, which mandated it to pay a 25 per cent charge from the value of all auctioned containers in the country.
Container terminals, according to them, incur huge costs associated with the handling of overtime containers especially with the positioning of containers selected by the Customs for auctioning without any commensurate benefit even after such containers are auctioned.
“Usually, it is after they (Customs) sell auctioned containers that they are supposed to pay the statutory 25 per cent. But for years that they have been moving containers to Ikorodu, they have not paid us the statutory 25 per cent of the auction value.
“It costs about $10 to lift a container once. For example, we may have to move seven or more containers to get to the one requested by the Customs for auction and this comes at a huge cost. So it is causing big operational cost for us.”
They also said that containers were selected haphazardly for auction, noting, “When overtime cargoes are to leave the port, they (Customs) should not pick a container that is 500 days old and leave a container that is 1,000 days old. The Customs should abide by the contract and regulation guiding auction.”
The operators urged the Customs to immediately commence the auction of overtime cargoes, which they said were threatening available space at the terminal.
Attah while responding to the accusation stated that the 25 per cent payment to terminal operators was part of the requirement for entering into an auction and was usually automatic after the auction of overtime containers.
He explained that the percentage was not subject to the influence of the Customs as the winner of the auction would be mandated to make the payment directly to the terminal operators and another one to the shipping companies.
He said, “If they say since we started the auctions, we have not auctioned overtime containers, they are correct. All along, we have been auctioning goods but the next auction will be overtime containers, which will take place in a few weeks’ time.
“Once that is done, the winner by law gives 25 per cent to terminal operators and another 25 per cent to the shipping company