Shippers Council seeks to stop  payment of containers deposit by 2021 … laments Shippers pays N1.7 billion on containers deposit annually

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Shippers Council seeks to stop  payment of containers deposit by 2021 … laments Shippers pays N1.7 billion on containers deposit annually

Peter Olaniyi   |     

The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has vowed to stop the  payment of containers deposit by importers to the shipping companies  before the end of first quarter of next year.

The Executive Secretary of NSC, Barrister Hassan Bello, made the pledge on the sideline of the meeting of head of maritime agencies held at the headquarters of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) yesterday.

Bello lamented that Shippers pay a whopping N1.7 billion every year on containers deposit which he said adds to the cost of doing business in the country.

Bello,  who blamed lack of holding bays by the shipping companies and the traffic gridlock for the late return of containers, said the council is already in discussion with National  Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NAICON) to see how they can get insurance for the Shippers to cover cost of containers.

According to him “Shippers pays N120,000 for containers deposit , that’s about N1.7 billion every year for container deposit and this is adding to the cost of doing business and this is not the fault of the shipper but because he cannot return the container within the specified time, the roads are clogged,  the holding bays are not working so how can he bear that risks? 

“We want indemnity system and we have already talked with NAICON, there must be insurance penetration ,  we could extend the marine insurance to cover containers .

“And by the first quarter of next year, there will not be payment of containers deposit” Bello declared.

Speaking earlier, host of the meeting and Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh,  revealed that the Deep Blue project that is expected to address Nigeria’s maritime security issues should be operational by September or October this year

In his words, “Exactly one month ago, we commenced the meeting of the Heads of maritime agencies to deliberate on common area of challenges.

“Today, one of the issues discussed is about the port community system. We have agreed to set up a committee that will look into the operationality of the port community system.

“We also discussed the 24 hours operation of our ports. We observed that port efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved without 24 hours port operations. 

“We have also agreed that at the next meeting, we will have an action plan which will come with deliverables and key performance indicator to see how our ports will run on a 24 hours basis.

“The issue of multi-modal means of cargo evacuation was also discussed, and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been mandated to ensure professionalism in movement of cargoes by barges. 

“We also agreed to co-opt the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) into this meeting in our next meeting because rail evacuation of cargoes is very important for efficient port operation. 

“So far, we are focusing on road, inland waterways and the rail means of cargo evacuation at our ports.

“We also talked about the issue of maritime security which has been lingering for some months now. The Nigerian Maritime Administration the Safety Agency (NIMASA) revealed during the meeting that more than 85 percent of the assets of the Deep Blue project are already in the country. What is left is the local component which includes logistics and training.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have not been able to send personnel abroad to go for training for the Deep Blue project.
“Most of the Deep Blue assets are highly sophisticated equipment tailor made for Nigerian terrain. That is why it is only the manufacturers of these assets that can deliver the required training for those that will man these assets.

 “We have agreed to send personnel for this training by this month, August; so that Deep Blue project can commence operation by September or October of this year.” he said

 The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, while reacting to a question raised about lack of corporation between the presidential task team and the agency, said the agency is working with the task team and helping them to identify their jurisdiction in other to avoid overlapping functions.

In her words “I’m curious as to the specific areas where there have been lack of cooperation between NPA and the Presidential Tasksforce. 

“What we sought to do with PTT is to identify that they have jurisdiction within the port access roads but not the ports.
” If there are any overlapping functions,  they would take actions to curb them. However, it is important for tge  PTTto understand that the role of port operations still domiciles with Nigerian Ports Authority” she said. 

She stressed that no port system can be efficient without multimodal transport system, warning that the traffic gridlock that characterizes Nigerian port access roads would continue until there are sufficient linkages with railways, inland waterways and pipeline to complement the road mode.

“No matter what PTF does to address the traffic gridlock, if all port stakeholders and the government do not recognize the need to deploy multimodal transport system,  the gridlock would remain,” Usman said.

The NPA Managing Director also noted that part of the deliberations during the meeting centered on the possibility of using barges to move containers of some port users, especially those importing thousands of containers and willing to convey the containers via barges to Onitsha.

“We can’t decongest a port location with over 1.3million containers by road. We must fast track the process of multimodal transport system and this government is keen in prioritizing that and we are all providing the necessary support,” she posited.

She equally admonished Nigerian Customs Service to fast track the process of auctioning cargoes to free the terminals.

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