There is a new move by the Federal Government to save Nigerian importers from paying N143.3 billion ($256 million) on container deposit annually to foreign shipping lines.
To this end, the Federal Government has directed NSC, Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to engage freight forwarders, shippers and truck owners on the need to introduce or abolish the proposed scheme.
Finding revealed that importers pay as much as $200 per empty container to shipping companies as deposit. In 2020, no fewer than 1.28 million Twenty Equivalent Units (TEUs) were ferried to Lagos and Tin can Island ports by ships. Also, in 2019, about N166.8 billion ($297.9 million) was paid on 1.49 million TEUs by the importers.
According to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s statistics, some 632,148 TEUs were handled at Lagos Port, while 650,365 TEUs were also handled at Tincan Island in 2020. In 2019, the data also revealed that Lagos Port took delivery of 668,672 TEUs and Tincan Island Port handled 820,942 TEUs.
Also, it was learnt that $400 was charged by the companies on 40 feet containers going outside Lagos. At the Lagos Port, 986 ships called in 2020 compared to 1,034 vessels in 2019, while Tin-Can ports berthed 1,127 ships in 2020 and 1,311 vessels called in 2019.
Worried by the loss, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), has commenced consultation with stakeholders from the maritime sector on the proposed Containers Deposit Guarantee Collective Scheme to curb the illegal charges. It was revealed that the new step would reduce the cost of doing business in the country’s seaports.
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) ,Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) had already been consulted at a meeting spearheaded by FRM Communication Limited .
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, explained that the purpose of the stakeholders meeting was to examine and review the proposal on how operators in the sector could benefit from it Jime, who was represented by the council Director, Consumer Affairs, Chief Cajetan Agu noted that explained how technological driven scheme could be introduced in cargo clearance.
Also the Executive Director, FRM Communication Limited, Mr. Banjo Olufemi, said that the innovation would eliminate containers deposit fee from the maritime sector, adding that for over two decades in the industry, shippers had been paying such levies to shipping companies without getting their monies back.
Olufemi said: “It is either the shipping companies pays the money to the freight forwarders or the shipping companies come up with funny reasons as to why they will not return the money back to the shippers.
“Premise on these challenges of tied down billions of naira for shippers to get refunds, we now came up with this idea that we should come up with a technological driven solution that will enable stakeholders track their containers from anywhere; both laden or empty containers respectively.
It is going to be right from the port for import down to the owners warehouse, where they offload and the return of the container back to the holding bays of the shipping companies.
“We strongly believe that once the system is operational, there will be no need for containers deposit fee again because the billions of naira paid on container deposit will be totally eliminated.
” The executive director also said that there would be no reason for capital flight again, Noting that the organisation would work on the positivity aspect on the outcome of the meeting with a view to improving the numerous contribution made known.
The Chairman of e-call up system and NPA’s Assistant General Manager, Operations, Ayodele Durowaiye, called on shipping companies to renew their licenses for holding bays activities as part of the role of engagement.
He noted that the cost of movement of containers from the seaports to Mile 2 had dropped drastically when compared to what was obtained in 2020.
Durowaiye explained that NPA had made progress in the e-call up system, saying containers movement in and out of the ports have been witnessing easy movement.
Also, Director at CRFFN, Dr. Alban Igwe, said that the council, NPA and Shippers Council would work closely to ensure free flow of cargo movement in and out of the seaports