Nigerian importers pay N1.7bn annualy as containers deposit fee ― FG

• Says Deep Blue project to commence October

The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has vowed to stop payment of containers deposit before the end of the first quarter of next year. This is even as the agency revealed that importers are annually subjected to payment of N1.7bn as container deposit fee to foreign shipping companies.

The Executive Secretary/CEO of the NSC, Barrister Hassan Bello stated this on Tuesday after the meeting of the heads of maritime agencies held at the headquarters of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Lagos.

Bello who blamed lack of holding bays and the gridlock at the port premises on the bane said the Council is already in talks with National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NAICON) to see how they can get insurance for the Shippers to cover the cost of containers.

According to the NSC boss, “every shippers pay N120,000 each as container deposit fee to foreign shipping companies, cumulating at N1.7 billion every year for container deposit. This is adding to the cost of doing business in our ports and is not the fault of the shippers but because he cannot return the container within the specified time because the roads are clogged, and the holding bays are not working; so why must the shipper bear such risks?

“We want indemnity system and we have already spoken with NAICON to bring insurance penetration into our port system. Hopefully, by the first quarter of next year, there will not be payment of containers deposit again.”

Speaking earlier, host of the meeting and Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh revealed that the Deep Blue project that is expected to address Nigeria’s maritime security issues should be operational by September or October.

He said: “Exactly one month ago, we commenced the meeting of the heads of maritime agencies to deliberate on a common area of challenges.

“Today, one of the issues discussed is about the port community system. We have agreed to set up a committee that will look into the operationality of the port community system.

“We also discussed the 24 hours operation of our ports. We observed that port efficiency and effectiveness cannot be achieved without 24 hours of port operation.

“We have also agreed that at the next meeting, we will have an action plan which will come with deliverables and key performance indicator to see how our ports will run on a 24-hour basis.

“The issue of multi-modal means of cargo evacuation was also discussed, and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been mandated to ensure professionalism in the movement of cargoes by barges.

“We also agreed to co-opt the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) into this meeting in our next meeting because rail evacuation of cargoes is very important for efficient port operation. So far, we are focusing on the road, inland waterways and the rail means of cargo evacuation at our ports.

“We also talked about the issue of maritime security which has been lingering for some months now. The Nigerian Maritime Administration the Safety Agency (NIMASA) revealed during the meeting that more than 85 percent of the assets of the Deep Blue project are already in the country. What is left is the local component which includes logistics and training.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not been able to send personnel abroad to go for training for the Deep Blue project.

“Most of the Deep Blue assets are highly sophisticated equipment tailor-made for Nigerian terrain. That is why it is only the manufacturers of these assets that can deliver the required training for those that will man these assets.

“We have agreed to send personnel for this training by this month, August; so that Deep Blue project can commence operation by September or October of this year.”

Also speaking after the meeting, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman explained that containers deposit are littering the ports and eating up space. She, therefore, urged the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) to auction off most of the containers.

“Our facilities at Ikorodu and Onne are 85 percent filled with overtime containers, and that is why there is a high build-up of overtime containers at the Lagos ports. We need the NCS to help auction off most of these overtime containers because they are eating up space inside the ports,” the NPA MD lamented.



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