There are indications that a law which would penalise foreign shipping companies which fail to remove empty containers from Nigerian ports within specified period is now in the pipeline.
There are indications that a law which would penalise foreign shipping companies which fail to remove empty containers from Nigerian ports within specified period is now in the pipeline. The penalty, which would enrich the Federal Government, it was further learnt, would be in form of levy or demurrage payable by foreign shipping operators and it is meant to ensure that government fore- closes in future, any possibility of dropped empty containers from accumulating to precipitate a congestion in the port. A member of the House Committee on Marine Transportation, Yakubu Dugara, said the measure which is presently a part of the report meant to be submitted to the National Assembly for finally approval, would thus put paid to the re-occurring congestion at the Lagos ports as a result of several empty containers at the quayside.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting at the Nigeria Customs Service Apapa command in Lagos, Dugara posited that since foreign shipping lines charge demurrage on containers with goods, they should also be ready to pay the same on empty boxes left at the port beyond a period of time to maintain sanity at wharf.
He advised shipping lines to have off dock terminals where they could store their empty containers, stressing that the boxes must leave the country as early as possible to create desired room for new ones.
The law maker also frowned on the situation where only Maersk Line was connected on line with the customs and querried what why the other shipping lines were not yet linked to reduce the cargo dwelling time in the terminals.
Meanwhile, a freight forwarder, John Oforbike, has called on the authorities to scrutinise more, the activities of the shipping companies, noting that enough attention was presently not being paid to them.
Oforbike, who is the chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Apapa chapter, observed that empty containers had littered every part of the country because the shipping lines do not have holding bay, and stressed that poor supervision had reduced container deposit into a total rip-off on Nigerians.
He lamented the present administration of container deposits and demurrage payment, stating that it takes over one month of strenuous pursuit by agents to get back their deposits after the containers had been returned, adding that foreign shipping lines have been having a field day in Nigeria because they were not being adequately monitored. ?The shipping companies have become tiny gods and they wield so much powers because nobody is monitoring their activities?, Oforbike stated, highlighting, that the Fedral Ministry of Transportation ought to be the regulatory body, and expressed dissatisfaction that nothing had been done to remove the shipping charges the importers and clearing agents complained off recently.