Unreturned Empty Containers: Clearing Agents Blame Government Laxity, Trade Imbalance 

Unreturned Empty Containers: Clearing Agents Blame Government Laxity, Trade Imbalance 

Peter Olaniyi


Freight Forwarders in the nation’s maritime industry has blamed government laxity and trade imbalance for the numbers of empty containers littering at the Lagos Port Corridor.

The numbers of empties that floods the Lagos Port according to report contributes about 50% to the worsening traffic situation at the ports.

Speaking with our correspondent the National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Increase Uche said the numbers of empties littering  the Lagos seaport has continued to increase due to government negligence stating that the government has shown little or no interest in getting it resolved, adding that the imbalance in trade flow has wrecked more havoc thereby making Nigeria dumping ground for empty containers

He said the solution to the issue of empty containers requires systematic approach to how empty containers are repositioned globally.

According to him

“We have been discussing this issue of empties containers times without number, but it seems the government is not serious with it, because some of the containers have even expired.

“If government is serious with it the ECR that is the Empties Containers  Repositioning would have been carried out. what we are suffering today is as a result of the imbalance in trade flow, once the laden container coming to a country is much we are bound to suffer the consequences of empties containers management,

“Because as you are requesting  for container when it is laden it is you the shipper that is interested in that containers, once a container is empty the shipper is no longer interested in the container , it should be the shipping company that should be interested in those empties containers as to reposition them for other cargoes coming.

“But that is the major problem, are the shipping companies interested in taking the cargoes back? that has been the problem, it would have been very easy, but for the fact that the country is import driven, there is imbalance in the trade flow that we keep receiving.

“The empty container is a global thing and it requires systematic approach on how empty containers are reposition globally, because of the trade imbalance we will continue to have these problems the government must see these as a challenge before we can actually get rid of these”

he said.

The National Secretary of ANLCA Babatunde Mukaila also blamed the government for been lackadaisical as to resolving the challenges posed by the numbers of empty containers littering the port.

He urged the government to intervene by ensuring that all shipping companies provides holding bays that will match the cargo throughput in the country.

“Government have to intervened there is need for us to have barge as an option , and I talk about additional holding bay, and not just an holding bay, but with a good land mass, the  the shipping line should have adequate holding bay to match the cargo throughput”

he said.

You will recall that The Presidential Task Team (PTT) on the Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa had called on the federal government late last year (November 2019)to declare a national emergency on empty containers handling at the Lagos ports with 30 to 60 days moratorium to ease the empty container return pressure.

On the implementation of a workable empty container return and export container truck handling policy, the Vice President of the Presidential Task Team Kayode Opeifa had said the PTT will work with NPA to review and streamline the document with existing realities and global best practices, hinting that his team now await NPA management’s approval and release of the reviewed document for deployment as this is basically a port operation, but with national interest.

Efforts to get the reaction of the presidential task team as to the level of work done in resolving the challenges posed by the empty containers proofs abortive as the Vice Chairman of the PTT Kayode Opeifa was still unreachable as at the time of filing this report.

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