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Power equipment containers trapped at Lagos Port since 2019

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Abiola Seun

Scores of  containers laden with equipment belonging to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) have again been trapped at the Lagos seaport.

It was gathered that the containers have accrued several millions of naira in demurrage and storage charges from terminal operators and shipping companies.

The containers, investigation showed, which  have been in the port since 2019, have taken up spaces in the port and contributed to congestion hence, the urgent need for them to be evacuated.

However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) ,having met with representatives of the two government agencies last week, waded in to ensure evacuation of the containers.

A source who craved anonymity has said that NDPHC has 69 of the trapped containers currently in the custody of MSC Shipping company.

The source,who wouldn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorised to speak to press, said both NPDHC and TCN lamented that, the containers came into Lagos port in 2019, and payments were made in December of the same year but, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the nation-wide lockdown in the early part of 2020 made it impossible to clear the containers and release them from the custody of the shipping companies and the terminal operator.

The source said, “They acknowledged the fact that the containers have been trapped for so long, and they would have accumulated rents and demurrage but, the representatives of both TCN and NDPHC pleaded with the Shippers Council to prevail on the shipping companies and the terminal operators to avail them of waivers.”

“They also pleaded with the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr Hassan Bello who presided over the meeting to further plead that the consignments be released and that the council should stand as a guarantor pending when necessary payments will be made.”

Another source at the meeting confirmed that the Shippers Council boss directed that another meeting should be called, to see whether the affected terminal operators and the shipping companies would accept the guarantee to be provided by Shippers Council.

The source quoted Bello as saying, “Let us see what we can do, my aim is to clear the cargo while negotiating, so that we can say that, today, we don’t have a single container of power sector, stressing that special recognition should be given to the power sector.”

He however expressed worry about continued cases of abandonment of containers in the ports, saying that the council receives several complaints about containers that have been abandoned since 2017.

“They are accruing demurrage and occupying space at the terminals, this is causing congestion at the terminals”, he lamented and added that such containers are liable for auction by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).When contacted, the spokesperson of NDPHC, Funke Nwakwo confirmed that company’s containers were trapped at the Lagos port and the management is on the verge of evacuating them from the seaport.

According to her, she has no detailed information about the meeting held between the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the NDPHC but knotty issues surrounding the trapped containers have been resolved.

She said, “I know they went for a meeting last week and the meeting was to resolve knotty issues surrounding the evacuation of the containers from the port,” she said

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