Apparently determined to address the age-long feud over return of container deposits to importers by shipping lines, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is considering engaging insurance firms.
Our correspondent learnt last week that the Council is tinkering with an arrangement which will take the burden of collecting refunds on container deposits off importers.
A source within the Council told our correspondent that, even though, it is in gestation stage, it is expected that there will be a forum where all relevant stakeholders will appraise the novel idea.
A container deposit is a refundable amount charged by a shipping company payable by a shipper for the use of the container but which acts as a guarantee against damage, theft or detention.
This charge is often imposed because containers are valuable properties cherished by shipping companies. These deposits which are usually un-refunded run into several Millions of Naira yearly.
Meanwhile, maritime industry stakeholders have thrown their weight behind the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on the proposal bring in insurance firm to handle issues of container deposits’ refund.
The stakeholders who included a former national president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr. Eugene Nweke, and the founder of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero, made their positions known in a separate chats with Shipping Position Daily in Apapa last week.
Nweke who lauded the NSC for the initiative said that container deposit can be referred to as a deliberate rip-off of shippers.
“You know the Shippers Council is saddled with the responsibilities of the economic regulations of the ports, talking about moderating financial excesses so that the cost of doing business in the ports will not be passed on to the masses”
Nweke however maintained that the initiatives by the NSC will not only easy the business and save money, but will also ensure a healthy and competitive environment.
“You collect container deposit and you are now returning it, now you (shipping companies) will come out with lots of excuses that cannot be verified. So to this extent and to put a lasting solution not just trying to ease business and save money, but to show that there is a competitive, healthy environment, this is the way to go”, he said.
Meanwhile Mr. Amiwero applauded the Shippers Council for the wonderful initiative, even as he charged the council to look at the legal implications of what they are doing.
He reiterated that insurance companies are better on the issue of handling of the container deposits.
Amiwero nevertheless described the collection of container deposits by shipping lines in Nigeria as an illegal act, which can only be obtained here in Nigeria because shipping lines are not properly regulated.
“And most of all these container deposits are not legal; it is common in Nigeria here; which the Nigerian Shippers Council is supposed to have addressed since, this thing has been there for a very long time and it is not helping anybody”, he stated.