TERMINAL Operators under the aegis of the Sea Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) have said that officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service are responsible for most of the problems bedevilling the port.
The chairman of the association, Vicky Haastrup made the accusation in Lagos recently during the third stakeholders meeting with Minister of Transportation and minister of state, Rotimi Amaechi and Gbemisola Saraki respectively.
The STOAN boss who did not give details of the problems caused by Customs, said that the Service had refused to change its way of operations thereby hampering the success of seamless operations in the port as well as increasing cost of doing business.
Speaking further, Haastrup who is also the Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Consortium, operators of terminals C and D in Lagos Port, averred that the maritime sector has a very huge potentials bigger than Oil and Gas sector but said lack of regulation and compliance by operators have denied the potentials from manifesting.
She argued that it is wrong to say terminal operators do not have equipment to work with saying, equipment is the bedrock of the operations of the concessionaire. “One of the greatest problems we have in the port is the issue of Customs problem, we have said it over and over at every given opportunity but it does not seem that customs will want to change their attitude of doing business.
“Maritime sector, like we have always said, has a very huge potentials. Everything that the government is looking for is in the maritime sector. It is actually even bigger than oil if the right policies are in place and the right things are done by the people operating within the sector.
“Everyone is guilty of one thing or the other in the sector, that is why we need the right policies to be passed by government. We need regulation, we need compliance on the part of every one of us operating in the sector to bring down the cost of doing business.
“The young man who said terminal operators do not have equipment, I would not say he is lying but it is not true. There is no terminal operators who do not have equipment because equipment is actually the bedrock of our operations. “NPA may go out and check and carry out due diligence and proper audit of all the terminal operators and see how much equipment we have.
“Equipment could break down and when equipment breaks down, it is our fault and we will not charge anybody for what is not their fault because that is not the right way to do business. The ES of NSC said more cargo came into the country this year more than any other year, it is because Dangote is doing a huge project, when the project finishes, what happens?” she queried.