By Godfrey Bivbere & Providence Adeyinka
The Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, and the National Insurance Company of Nigeria, NICON, have finalised measures to curb the loss of about N670 million suffered by shippers in the country over failure to return empty containers within the time specified by shipping lines.
Shippers pay container deposits to shipping lines namely, N300,000 for a 40 foot container or N150,000 for a 20 foot container. However, the shipper forfeits the deposit if the container is not returned to the shipping line within the grace period which is usually two to three weeks.
Disclosing this yesterday to Vanguard in an exclusive chat in his office, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, CEO of the NSC, Hassan Bello, explained that NICON and the Council have been meeting to strategise on the best way to curb the huge revenue loss incurred by shippers via container deposits.
Bello explained that the plan is to make importers pay a token to insurance companies which will, in turn, ensure that the importers’ empty containers are returned to the shipping company.
According to him, “the committee, comprising officials of the NSC and NICON has completed work last week.. I am studying the report before we present it to NICON.
“We spent N670 million two years back on container deposit, it is clumsy, we want to use the money for more productive courses. People should return containers as at when due, but to be honest, the contract is frustrated because there is no access for returning these containers and you are going to charge importers and their agents’ demurrage, which is not fair.
“We have looked at what is obtainable in other countries where you can have it like insurance and you have a lot of takers. It should be insured, instead of paying N300,000 as container deposit, you can pay an insurance company N20,000 and the company will make sure your container is returned by any means necessary.
“It is because of this hurry; rush to escape demurrage that you see a lot of truck laden with empty containers that are meant for return. That regime of empty containers has to be addressed holistically,” he concluded.