…Says Most of them don’t have Holding Bays
The Nigerian Shippers Council has lampooned shipping companies operating in Nigeria, blaming them for the rising spate of corrupt tendencies at the port, even as it revealed that many of them do not have holding bays to receive empty containers.
Speaking at an event to discuss port charges in Lagos yesterday, Assistant Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement of the Council, Mrs Celine Amaka Ifeora who represented the Council’s Executive Secretary, Barrister Hassan Bello said that shipping companies are merely pretending to own holding bays.
She revealed that most of the shipping companies operate on a third party arrangement with bonded terminals, thereby directing trucks to take the empty containers to these areas. According to her, the shipping companies were doing this in order to shy away from the cost of transporting their empty containers to the port.
Ifeora also lampooned terminal operators for frustrating the receipt of empty containers from truck drivers at the port gate. She lamented that truckers are often times forced to part with a sum of N10,000 before they can have access to drop empty containers at the port in Apapa.
According to her, though infrastructure is a very serious challenge at Nigerian ports, one of the major challenges is corruption.
She stated that “Somebody who have stayed on the queue for fourteen days to enter the port called my attention and reported that he was denied access to the port because he did not pay N10, 000, and when you look at the people who are involved, it is you and I, those in government, and those who are running the terminals”
“On the issue of demurrage, the shipping companies should be blamed, the first thing they should do when they come to Nigeria is to get a holding bay for their empty containers, but they don’t have it, they are pretending that they have it but they don’t have”
“What they have is a third party arrangement with some bonded terminals, so that whenever you ask of their holding bay they would claim to have one, meanwhile it is not being used, they want to cut cost, they don’t want responsibility, they don’t want to take the containers to port at the right time by themselves”
She also lamented that 90% of Nigerian cargoes are delivered by road. The Shippers council top gun also said that increase in charges has further contributed to the diversion of cargoes from Nigeria to neighboring counties.
“After clearing in Cotonou, goods are still sold far cheaper than how much they are sold in Nigeria, this is why you see Nigerians going over there to smuggle it into the country, the way out is a paradigm shift”
“Corruption is existing inside the port, if the President is fighting corruption at the top, we on the lower level have to help him by reporting anything going wrong”
“If the charges are abrogated, do away with corrupt practices, put the right infrastructure in place, the importers would come back and Nigeria would become a hub very fast”