Cargo chaos as Lagos port hit by strike

February 10, 2009
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, LAGOS, Feb 10 – A two-day-old strike by Nigerian freight and forwarding agents to protest high charges is worsening cargo congestion in Lagos, the country\’s main seaport, union officials said on Tuesday.

"We began the strike on Monday to register our displeasure at the exorbitant charges by terminal operators which is affecting our business," union leader Usman Sanusi told AFP.

He said the strike which has so far affected the Lagos seaport might be extended to those in the southern cities of Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar unless there was a reduction in the fees.

Port activities were paralysed for the second day Tuesday as dockworkers also joined the strike in solidarity with the customs agents, union officials said.

"Nigeria customs officials could not examine containers because the agents and dockworkers have withdrawn their services," an official told AFP.

He said the strike has worsened the congestion at the port, adding that over 90 oil tankers and cargo ships were waiting to berth at the Lagos port.

He said another batch of 70 ships are expected to arrive in Lagos this week.

Nigerian licensed customs agents have long opposed the fees by private operators appointed by the regime of former president Olusegun Obasanjo to manage the cargo terminals in the nation\’s seaports.

The agents accuse the operators of being interested only in making money for themselves without improving facilities at the ports.

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