By DAPO OLAWUNI
Nigerian shippers are currently lamenting the increase in cost of freight for shipments from Europe and Asia into Lagos from less than $3,000 for a 40 foot container to up to $13,000 due to scarcity of empty containers to ship goods to Lagos.
Investigations revealed that shipping companies in Antwerp, Istanbul, Guangzhou and Beijing no longer have containers to ship goods to Apapa port and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos because the containers sent in the last ten years have not been returned.
Speaking on the container scarcity and the attendant increase in freight rates, President of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) Rev Jonathan Nicol said the association is engaging the Nigerian Shippers Council to address the situation, predicting that the freight rates might still rise as high as $20,000
Nicole said that most of the empty containers abandoned in Nigeria by shipping companies are expired containers and could not be shipped back to their countries of origin.
“We have told the government all we want them to do, we have told them to bring in a state of emergency so that we would have time to smoothen their platforms, we are in the forefront of getting the shipping lines to evacuate their containers for several years”
“These empty containers are littered everywhere including highways, it never used to be so, in past, shipping companies send their staff to go after empty containers, but things have changed now because of policy somersault”
“The situation should have been of benefit to Nigeria because exports have blossomed. The empty containers could be used to ship out export. While the other empties at the various terminals should be evacuated”
Nicole urged Federal Government to charge shipping companies for failing to evacuate their containers from Nigerian Ports.
According to him, Shippers pay N200,000 for containers deposits, but after return, the containers not not being taken out of our ports.
“The reason is that some of these containers have expired and they cannot take them back to countries of origin, but Nigeria does not have regulation to force them to take it out”
“If they are now complaining of not having containers to bring our cargoes, how is that the fault of the shipper?
After paying your freight, you are now coming to increase freight”
“We hold the regulatory bodies responsible, and I will pass this information to the Nigerian Shippers Council to look into it”
“China ought to take its empty containers out of Nigeria, if they don’t do this, it means they have underlining reasons they have not told us”