Importers lose NGN1.7 billion yearly to container deposit regime

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Nigerian importers have continued to bear the brunt of irregularities at the seaports, as they spent about N1.7 billion yearly on container deposit to foreign shipping lines.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, who disclosed this during a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, said government would not fold its arms and allow the shipping line extort Nigerians.

Bello bemoaned the rent seeking strategy, the container deposit charges and the PSS charges.

He said: “We are resolute and determined to eradicate unethical practices in the ports.

“The container deposit regime must be reformed. A lot of money is being paid on return of empty containers. The roads are bad and the shipping firms don’t have holding bays, so we are looking at another strategy, an indemnity regime,” he said.

Bello said about N1.7 billion is being collected for empty container deposit by shipping firms.

“There are no standard practices within the industry pertaining to the requirement of container deposit. In Apapa, the challenge of container return was the dilapidated roads. We have looked at how it is done in other clime and we are consulting widely,” he said.

Bello lamented that the shipping companies charge $100 as deposit for a 20 feet container within Lagos, and $200 outside Lagos, while $200 is charged on 40 feet container within Lagos and $400 outside Lagos.

He said such charges are not collected in Hong Kong, China, Sri Lanka, Mayanmer and Singapore.

He however urged the freight forwarders to handle the container with care.

General Manager, Tariff and Billings, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Abubakar Garba Umar, said the empty containers loitering around is the fault of the shipping lines because they refused to set up an holding bay in Nigeria.

“The liners should also be encouraged to put facilities in place to enhance the planned electronic systems at the ports,” he said.

The Freight Forwarders said they are suffering from lots of lootings in the hands of the shipping lines and the terminal operators.

“This issue of arbitrary charges has been a serious challenge on our side. We have suffered a lot of humiliations from these people,” a source said.

Chairman, Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Jonathan Nicol said the arbitrary charges, including the Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) by foreign shipping companies are strangulating Nigerian shippers and importers.

He said: “The foreign shipping lines ought to be happy that they have cargoes to move because the freight charges should be enough for them. We are in a pandemic period; this is not the right time to introduce new and excessive charges. Everybody is giving concession that lures people to come and do business in this pandemic period, so why are the shipping lines trying to kill business at this time?

“We are not against the shipping lines because we are trade partners with them. However, with the PSS introduction, we feel they are strangulating us. Don’t forget the border closure is still there,” he said.

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