Largest container carrier, Maersk line has earned fresh surcharge of N255 million from Nigerian importers in one month as holding bay surcharge from about 17,000 empty containers.
The largest container carrier to Nigeria which receives 17,000 empty containers every month introduced a fresh surcharge of N15,000 on every empty container before being allowed access into their designated holding bays. Investigation has shown that the fresh surcharge was introduced after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) suspended Maerskline and three others for not operating a holding bay for empty containers that litters the port access roads. Though, Maersk line had in a meeting with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) recently said it would introduce a fresh container surcharge if the government forced it to operate a holding bay. Speaking to the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Marine Operations Manager, Maerskline Nigeria, Kikelomo Abiola Cudjoe, said the shipping firm would slam additional charges on users of shipping service if forced to operate a holding bay.
She said, “Talking about cost, for the shipping lines we were asked to return the containers to the holding bays, nobody is thinking at who will cover the cost of shunting and transfering of the containers back to the terminal and we have made it known to the authorities and the Shippers Council that this is a cost that would eventually be passed on to the customers.”
“It is also not in our best interest because everybody everybody understand the condition in Nigeria and the economy and what i am saying is that this policy eventually would hit the customers really badly,” she warned.
But, the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) yesterday confirmed that the largest container carrier had placed a surcharge of N15,000 on every truck driver delivering empty containers to the designated holding bays. Maerskline holding bay facilities include Unity Bonded terminal, Vicomar terminal, Fano Bonded terminal and HBX-PMS depot.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, vice president, Dry Cargo, NARTO, Alhaji Abdulahi Inuwa alleged that at Family bonded terminal, truck drivers are charged N15,000 before allowed to drop empty containers at the facility. He also stated that the holding bay received empty containers on the instruction of the shipping companies.
“At Fano bonded terminal where Maersk like ask truck drivers to drop containers but let me tell you one thing, this holding bay receive empty containers on instruction of shipping line last two weeks, before the Sallah my truck is on the queue close to Ijesha my driver went there to give them access card but they say they can only collect on Saturday and moreover before they can collect, I will hold my N15,000 and up till now the container and truck is still at first rainbow because I haven’t pay the money.”
Inuwa who also disclosed that some shipping companies are yet to have holding bay said those who have are filled up to capacity because the traffic gridlock make it impossible for shipping companies to transport them outside to the port for evacuation.
“There are so many factors responsible for traffic gridlock and part of them is because of the manipulation of most shipping companies to provide holding bays for receiving empty containers and those that have holding bays, are filled to capacity and moreover even if they want to transport their container to holding bays, the traffic gridlock is affecting and this is another issue.”
He also explained that since 85 percent trucks are used to evacuate empty containers to the ports taking over two weeks to access the port. “What am trying to tell you is that the trucks are busy carrying empty containers at holding bay and 85 percent trucks are carrying empty containers and when just one truck arrived the port, you have about 10 agents waiting to use it then it will be the highest bidder. “Also, as a truck owner transportation is about turnover and to go Isolo and come back it will take over two weeks or you bribe security agencies to follow one way to the port but that is not economical.” Recall that NPA has in July suspended the shipping services of Maerskline, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal shipping companies for 10 days.
This is just as the agency accused some of the shipping companies of importing a larger number of containers than empty containers exported, thereby making the country a dumping ground for empties.
In a statement made available to Holding by the assistant general manager, corporate & strategic communications, Isah Suwaid, NPA said it will review the level of compliance of the suspended shipping companies to the holding bay directive after the ten days expiration of their suspension. According to the NPA, “As part of efforts to resolve the protest by truck drivers at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) Lagos, the NPA has announced a 10-day suspension of the services of four Shipping Companies, in the first instance.
“The affected shipping companies whose suspension takes effect from Saturday, July 14th, 2018 are Maerskline, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal. “At the expiration of this suspension, the Authority will review the level of their compliance to its directives.”