The Lagos State Vice Chairman, Dry Cargo Section of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa, has lampooned shipping companies over clams that empty containers are being diverted by truckers for other use and in some cases sold off after their contents have been off-loaded.
Alhaji Inuwa described the claims as insincere and a ploy to hold on to the container deposit made to shipping companies by importers.
Inuwa who spoke to newsmen yesterday in Lagos, was reacting to the claim recently credited to some shipping companies that about 1,600 empty containers were yet to be returned weeks after they had been taken from the terminals, suggesting that they may have been sold-off or converted to other uses by the truckers in connivance with clearing agents.
He also added that shipping companies have the responsibility of provide holding bays for the return of their empty containers, which he said they have failed to live up to.
“How many of them have holding bays to receive empty containers? They don’t have holding bays and you see the hazards that our drivers are exposed to. You can go to Kano and come back, all within seven days, but for you to move from ‘Stadium to Wharf’, you spend 15 to 20 days, unless if your pocket will speak for you", he alleged.
Speaking further on the alleged antics of shipping companies, the NARTO top man said: “They used that as a ploy to be draining the deposit out of the importer. Also, if the clearing agents are putting blames on the truckers, I will say that the clearing agents are benefitting one way or the other if not, they are the ones to fight this nonsense to a stop to save their customers who are the importers, but along the line, you see that they are silent about it".
He also called on the government to abolish container deposit in order to bring normalcy back to the roads leading to the ports.
“If a truck has an accident, there must be police report, nobody will rule out accident. Before now, when this container deposit was not there, the shipping companies used to go round to look for their containers. I believe if that container deposit is abolished, you will see that all these problems that we are encountering as gridlock, there will be none because they will sit up” he concluded.