Shippers’ Council Introduces New Container Regime

·         Abolishes container deposits collections 

·         Seek s 21 days free period for shippers

 

 The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said that it is introducing a new container regime with a view to abolish collection of container deposits by shipping companies in Nigeria.

Executive Secretary of the Council; Mr Hassan Bello stated this on Monday when he paid a working visit to three shipping lines in Apapa; Grimaldi Shipping, Maersk Line and CMA CGM. 

Bello also directed shipping companies to comply immediately with directive of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Committee (PEBEC) by ensuring that ships’ manifests are transmitted electronically to the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) within seven days.

According to him, rotation number of ships should be published on shipping companies’ websites within five days.

He also said that all charges should be published on their websites so that the customer knows and he can make plans.

While describing the visit as a periodic one where the council usually feels the pulse of its stakeholders, Bello nevertheless warned that shipping companies henceforth must refund container deposits to the shipper within five days. 

"We have the issue of container deposit which we call regime, we have had several complaints from shippers as far as container regime is concerned, some of the complaints were the failure of shipping companies to refund deposits on time. The agreement we had with shipping companies is that deposits should be refunded within four days"

"We also have problems of demurrage on the containers over failures to return them through no fault of the shipper.

You should de-emphasize collecting container deposits, rather you should rely on the relationship you have with your client", he counseled.Other charges he frowned at included: cleaning charges, charges due to dents on containers. 

The shippers’ council boss advocated that the perennial traffic gridlock on access to the port is not the fault of any shipper, he appealed to shipping companies to have considerations and waive charges for 21 days free.

Bello argued that "there are times in the history of a country when you have extreme difficulties and companies have been known to consider certain things to alleviate the suffering, so we hope by extension of the 21 days free time to accommodate circumstances which is nobody's fault"

He also sought the shipping companies’ facilitation of true bill of laden for goods to move to dry ports as at when due. 

Already, he said the Council is going into a Memorandum of Understanding with shipping companies on finding a sustainable mechanism for resolving disputes and tariffs, he said the agreement is 80% completed. 

Responding to Bello's comments, Director, Customer Service Central West Africa of Maersk Line, Razak Ngula lamented that about 1600 containers belonging to the shipping line are still hanging with different customers.

He stated that the container deposit is not to recover the value of container and that container refunds are done within three days to the customers.

He lamented that the shipping line is presently encumbered with compulsory presentation of 12-pages of manually compiled copies of shipping manifests. This according to him has to be sent to NPA, Customs and NIMASA on every vessel calling at Nigerian Port. 

Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director, Grimaldi Shipping, Ascanio Russo said that already, his agency operates 21 days free period for shippers and that 80% of its customers enjoy the grace except those who do not have track records with his agency. 

According to him, Grimaldi Shipping pays back container refunds within three days of return. 

Russo however lamented that one of the major challenges of the agency in spite of the Presidential Directive on Ease of Doing Business is the influx of touts at its terminal; PTML Terminal.

He said most of the touts besieging the terminal are claiming to be freight forwarders. Already, he said over 10,000 freight forwarders and clearing agents have been registered by Grimaldi Shipping. 

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