By Godwin Oritse
THE National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, has threatened to take legal action against shipping companies over the collection of container deposit fee, a development they say is against international best practices.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, President of the group, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said that the fee was illegal adding that the group has written to the shipping firms to desist from such practice or face legal action.
Amiwero said that the issue of container deposit fee is only done in Nigeria as it is not practiced elsewhere in the world.
He disclosed that the Nigerian port industry has never had it this bad adding that policies of government has not helped matters.
Similarly, the Deputy President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto, has blamed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, for not taking any action against these shipping firms.
Farinto said that despite the fact that the country is recording a lull in cargo throughput, the shipping companies are making more money from container deposit fees as they know that infrastructural challenges.
Container deposit is demanded by shipping companies from importers as a guarantee for the return of their empty containers. The deposit is expected to be refunded once the empty containers are returned.
But Vanguard Maritime Report investigations show that the shipping companies hardly refunded the fee, mostly on allegation of delays or slight dent on the empty container.
Collaborating Farinto’s position, the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Apapa Gridlock, Commodore Okon Eyo, said that shipping companies are not bothered about the gridlock on the Apapa corridor which delays return of empty containers, adding that “the longer you remain on the road, the better for them”.
Eyo stated: “What you see most times is that you see the truckers are dashing to the port because they want to reclaim their money, which is understood.
“I told them while we are pursuing government and other efforts to try to ease off (the gridlock), we will need to do something quickly to address the problem,” he said.