Maersk Line threatens to increase charges over holding bay.


Maersk Line Shipping Agency has threatened to pass on to its customers the additional cost of maintaining  holding bay should government forces them to provide the facility.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Ports Authority  (NPA) has mandated all the shipping companies operating in the country  to construct holding bays where their empty containers could be warehoused.

This was part of the multi -prong measures to decongest the port access roads.

The Marine Operations Manager of Maersk Line in Nigeria, Kikelomo Abiola Cudjoe argued that using the holding bay would add to the cost of doing business for the shipping company, vowing that this would be transferred to the customers.
She made the remark in Lagos recently at a meeting with the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello.
She also warned that forcing the shipping companies to make use of holding bays would lead to congestion which government is trying to avoid, and that vessels calling at the port would not have enough empty containers to go back with on their return voyage.

Cudjoe lamented that shipping lines were being targeted by the government, whereas it is not only shipping lines that are parties responsible for the gridlock being experienced at the port. According to her, petroleum tankers and other road users also contribute to the gridlock.

“Talking about cost, for the shipping lines, we were asked to return the containers to the holding bays, nobody is thinking of who will cover the cost of shunting and transferring of the containers back to the terminals, we have made it known to the authorities and the Shippers Council that this is a cost that would eventually be passed on to the customer”

“It is also not in our best interest because everybody understands the condition in Nigeria and the economy, what I am saying is that this policy eventually would hit the customers really badly”.

“If you look at it prior to now before this policy was implemented, it was simply go inside the terminal and come out with a container, but now, there is going to be many stops, you go from the terminal to the customers yard,  from there back to the holding bays and from holding bays back to the terminals, there are so many different movements and that in itself creates congestion on the road, this policy will very likely compound the problem we are trying to avoid”

The Maersk Line top executive however said that, the traffic situation was also affecting staff of the shipping line and that, as a corporate entity, they are very much aware of the challenges.

She said that it was not that the shipping lines did not want to provide holding bays, but that the aforementioned issues were preventing this from happening.

She also accused the truck owners and their drivers of profiting from the present arrangement. She said that an average trucker preferred to take empty containers directly to the port from where he queues up to get another customer.

Cudjoe said that implanting the holding bay policy would lead to shortage of truck availability to pick cargoes at the port.

“Already it is a pressurised market and since this directive started in February this year, we have not seen an increase in containers being returned to the holding bays”

“As a matter of fact, we see that truckers continue to take the empty containers directly to the ports, why?  They want to be able to go in,  drop the empty and at the same time pick up an import, this is cost effective for them .

“When we talk about the shortage of trucks, if this policy is forced to go ahead, we would see a lot of pressures.  we are already seeing that there would be an increase in demand and it would lead to an increase in costs”

“There is every likelihood that ships would be sailing out light because not all containers would be at the port, this is also because we do not have a firm mechanism in place to be able to coordinate between the terminals and shipping companies to ensure we have sufficient containers at the port as at when the vessel is around”

“In the long run, if our ships are sailing light, then it is more costly for us to do business and this ends up creating a rippled effect and affecting the customers in the long run” she affirmed.

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