Ibrahim Tanko, MD Ibraleo Nig. Ltd.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The name Ibrahim Tanko needs no introduction when it comes to issues bordering on freight forwarding more so that in recent times Mr. Tanko has been championing the cause of making everyone using the Ports to comply with all the rules as stipulated by our laws.
In this exclusive interview Mr. Tanko bares his mind and gave his idea of solutions to the multifaceted problems militating against the efficient functioning of our ports.
Mr. Tanko replied when asked about the recent increase in terminal charges by concessioneers by saying rather satirically that he did not see it as anything unusual as impunity and exploitation has become the order of the day. We are in pains in the this industry, but the major problem is that we as practitioners are not united, if you start a process that will kick against some of these illegal activities within the industry, the result is that you or your association will be singled out as rebel(s) or trouble maker(s). Many do not see us as the collective with the same problems that should be fought against together, it is rather unfortunate. Some go and collect bribe and allow these illegalities to be perpetuated, this cannot augur well for the spirit of collective bargaining.
He went on to say that the increase in the terminal charges is even just a little part of the problems in the industry. He exploded with a rhetorical question “Are you aware that if you pay for a container to be cleared at the APMT terminal within two days and eventually through no fault of yours, it takes seven days to clear, that you will pay the storage fee for the extra five days”, that is what happens in our ports.
We have complained to virtually everybody that is involved in different operations within the ports, from the NPA to the Customs and the terminal operators to the shippers council and all to no avail. All promises made by all sides have failed. On this issue of increase in terminal charges, the Nigeria Shippers Council should do its job by putting a stop to it.
Mr. Tanko also took a swipe at the shipping companies as he said that the issue of container deposit has become so thorny, he complained that the shipping companies illegally collect container deposit which they may not even take back to the source in the end. He noted that charges by terminal operators are so arbitrary that in the end you get confused as the same items in two different containers and terminals pay different fees while clearing them at the ports.
He says that the conditions for doing business are so bad that no practitioner is happy and that they would have considered an industrial action of the withdrawal of services, but for the volatile nature of things in the country right now.
He continued, “You would want to talk about the issue of the Nigerian Ports Authority and the eto inspired call up system, look at the mess that the project has become, the NPA seemed not to be prepared before launching the project as they did not take into account all the factors that may make it to fail into consideration before the roll out”.
The Customs also has its own problems with a multiplicity of units that have been created within the service and yet have similar functions one to the other. It is so chaotic, expensive and tiresome doing business in our ports these days and I think that it is high time we all work together to get it all streamlined and simplified as this will help the much touted ease of doing business and proper facilitation of trade.
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