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Most containers used for imports to Nigeria have expired – Experts

Segun Oladipupo          

The globally accepted practice is that when a vessel brings 500 containers into a country, it should be able to take about the same figure or more out of the country.

But in Nigeria, almost all the terminals hardly have space to receive fresh consignments due to the space taken by empty containers.

This applies to most of the container terminals in Nigeria.

The shipping companies have been alleged to deliberately leave behind most of their containers in Nigeria because they have expired or damaged and will not be acceptable in other countries.

A survey shows that more than 30 percent of the containers coming into Nigeria are between 16 and 19 years old.

A container has a life span of 10 to 15 years depending on the use of the container. Some claim that it can last up to twenty years if well taken care of.

A container like human is supposed to be taken for a check every two to three years to ascertain its viability for shipment of cargoes.

In Nigeria, especially Tin Can and Apapa ports which receive about  95 percent of imported items, some of the containers used to ship goods into Nigeria are either damaged or overstretched so much that they pose threats to the cargoes inside them.

Some of the containers laden at the back of truck trying to find their ways into the terminals and those stacked in the terminals have their manufacturing date as far back as year 2000, 2002, 2003 which means  that they are already 19 years old or thereabout.

Even though the containers are rusted and damaged, shipping lines still rent them out to importers and charge demurrage for late return of such containers even when they don’t have intention of returning them to the port of origin.

A container carrying goods in Tincan belonging to GOLD shipping line had been patched at the side signifying that the container is either accidented or worn out due to long years of use.

A close look at the manufacturing date shows that the container was manufactured in in the year 2000 and it is being used to ship cargoes into the country.

It is 19 years old and still being used to ship cargoes not minding the damage such container could cause the cargoes inside.

In one of the cases brought before the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the importer said his fish import got damaged because the container had expired and was leaking ,thereby the content got spoilt on transit

Ironically, in Nigeria, the containers coming into Nigeria are the ones not acceptable in other countries including the countries of the foreign shipping lines because there is a strict regulation to that effect.

In Nigeria, no one can pointedly say who is responsible for the control or management of the containers that are used to ship cargoes into the country.

Comrade Jude Ige, a graduate of the department of Freight Forwarding, Supply Chain Management of the Redeemers University of Nigeria (RUN) said that the life span of a container should not exceed ten years after which it should be jettisoned or replaced.

He said most of the containers coming into the country are deliberately brought in with intention to leave them behind.

He said, “If the government wakes up to its terms, most of these containers are not supposed to be in this country because most of these containers, by mere  looking at them, have expired.

“The life span of every container is not supposed to be more than ten years.

“The gridlock on the road is not because of the bad road alone but because of shipping lines like Maerskline, Cosco, Nedlloyd, MAC, CMA CGM that are patronising the Tincan port port because the space management is not there.

“Movement of container out of the port is not there, they use this to exploit and extort the agents because they use that to write off the container deposit.

“If they begin to charge shipping companies demurrage on those containers, you will find out that the whole drama will change because nobody is holding them responsible.

“It has a risk on the cargoes inside it. It could lead to leakage, the chemicals used for preservatives might have expired because container is treated,” he stated.

The National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Increase Uche said container have a life span of up to fifteen years depending on the usage.

He added that a container should be taken for check up every two to three years to be able to last that long.

© 2019, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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