There were indications that vessel congestion at Lagos ports would worsen as a result of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) banning the use of barges to convey containers in and out of the ports.
Barges had been introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to reduce congestion at the ports, and this appeared to have had some impact.
Waiting periods in Lagos anchorage can now exceed one month. Hapag-Lloyd was reported to have said in an advisory note that calling at Lagos ports had continued to suffer “extraordinary delays”, with waiting times at APM Terminals’ Apapa and Bollore Ports’ Tincan Island Container Terminal (TICT) continuing to exceed 30 and 20 days respectively.
The NCS has said that it was in receipt of intelligence that the use of barges to evacuate containers in and out of our ports was being abused, with containers being diverted to illegal warehouses. “Consequently, I am directed to inform you that the use of barges to evacuate containers should stop with immediate effect”, the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, said.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) described the ban as “a trade-frustrating and wicked policy”. Its president, Tony Nwabunike, said that the blanket ban on the use of barges to evacuate containers would impede the efforts of other government agencies, including like the NPA and the National Inland Waterways Authority to find a sustainable solution to the movement of goods through the waterways. The roads in Nigeria leading to ports are insufficient and those that exist are in a poor condition.