…80% of Empty Containers on Port Access Roads Owned by MSC Shipping
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has expressed their frustrations and readiness for a showdown with a foreign shipping company in Nigeria; Mediterranean Shippers Company (MSC) for allegedly running container deposit scams and extorting clearing agents and importers.
The Licensed agents also called on the Nigerian Shippers Council to be up and doing in its regulatory functions, saying that even though the council has two staff representing her at every port terminal, working conditions of these terminals are nothing to write home about.
Speaking through its Public Relations Officer at Tin Can Island Chapter, Mr Emma Onyeme, the Chairman of the chapter, Prince Segun Oduntan raised an alarm that eighty percent of empty containers littering the port access road is owned by MSC Shipping.
According to him, the shipping company does not have a container holding bay in Nigeria, what she does is to use trucks as holding bays, while collecting huge demurrages and container deposits from clearing agents and importers.
The association alleged that MSC Shipping had designated Ports and Cargo Terminal as its holding bay, but that the terminal operator has no distinct space mapped out for that purpose. He said Port and Cargo Terminal only invite trucks into the terminal when MSC vessels arrives their terminal.
The ANLCA Chairman lamented that the cost of transporting an MSC container from Port and Cargo Terminal at Tin Can Island Port to National Bus Stop (also at Tin Can Port) is N250,000, and that if you are taking a 20foot container to Ikeja, a Lagos suburb, you have to pay N800,000″
He said what most people do is that when returning to the port with the empty container, they stop at Mile 2 bus stop and transport the truck and empty container by barges, they pay N120,000 to use the barge.
“The MSC are a big problem to our port operations, if you take a look from Mile 2 to Tin Can Island Port and Liverpool, if you go into Ajegunle, you would discover that most of the containers you see along the road 80% of them belong to MSC because they do not have a holding bay, the place they use as their holding bay is Ports and Cargo Terminal and right now there is no space there”
“A container taken from Ports and Cargo going to Second Gate takes six working days to be able to return the empty container, and for the number of days you spend on the road, the MSC are collecting their demurrage”
“A container that leaves for places like Ladipo or Ikeja takes almost two months to get back to the port, what MSC do is that they use trucks as their holding bay, whenever their vessel is on ground, that is when Ports and Cargo would start calling on trucks with MSC containers to start coming into their terminal”
“There is no space mapped out inside the terminal for MSC containers. We are challenging any MSC staff to come out and show us that this is their holding bay, let them tell us that we are lying”
“This is where we expected the Shippers Council to carry out their obligations, but from the look of things, Shippers Council has failed to protect the interest of importers, and whatever importers are paying in the process of getting their goods out of the port, at the end of the day they pass it onto the final consumer” he said
The association called on Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to implement monitoring of vessels to ensure that they evacuate an equivalent of TEUs they have brought into Nigeria, according to her, failure of NPA in this regard has led shipping companies turning Nigeria into a dumping ground.
“NPA too are not helping matters, it seems they and Shippers Council are running rivalry.
Right now, every terminal at the port has two staff of Shippers Council that gives them report, so what report is the staff giving the Council that they dont know what people are passing through”
“If today the government can step into the matter and ask every shipping company to stop collecting container deposits, all the shipping companies would start taking their empty containers, right now, they are benefitting from this scam” he said