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Port Congestion: Foreign Vessels Pay $100,000 As Waiting Time Hits 50 Days



Foreign shipping companies calling at the Lagos seaports pay a Whopping $100,000 (N46.5million at prevailing rate of N465/$) each at anchorage before they can berth their vessel for discharging of their cargoes, LEADERSHIP checks have revealed.

Congestion has hit Nigerian seaports due to inability of clearing agents to evacuate cargoes from the Lagos seaports -Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports because of COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of land borders.

This has resulted in Lagos bound vessels spending at least 50 days at anchorage before they could berth at Apapa port or 25 days before they could berth at Tin-Can Island port.

However, each vessel pays $2, 000 each day to stay at private Anchorage due to the insecurity on the nation’s waters.

Confirming the longer stay of vessels at anchorage, the executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello said abandonment of containers at the port by importers was responsible for longer stay of vessels at anchorage.

According to him, importers have turned Nigerian ports that were supposed to be a transit point to warehouses thereby making it impossible for vessels to find space to discharge cargoes.

Bello who spoke through the Council’s director, Regulators Service, Mrs Ijeoma Ezedinma, said, “Vessels are now made to wait for about 50 days at Lagos Anchorage before they are called in to berth at the designated Terminal.

“We are not supposed to have containers stacked inside the ports. The ports have been converted into warehouses because most owners of these consignments are not coming forward.

“During the lockdown, a lot of warehouses were locked. These accounts for why importers are reluctant to come forward.”

Corroborating the Shippers Council’s boss, the vice president of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr Kayode Farinto lamented the high cost of security charges paid by shipping companies at anchorage.

He informed that shipping companies pay as much as $2, 000 per day at anchorage for security stating that it takes close to 50 days at anchorage for a vessel to anchor before it berths at APMT terminal, while it takes 25 days for a vessel heading to TICT.

He said, “Also, when a vessel calls in our water, let’s say APMT, it takes 55 days to call, If it is TICT, 25 days. Once a vessel enters our water, it is the job of the NPA to escort you but there is a place they anchor vessels called Secure Anchorage and they pay $2, 000 a day for a secured anchorage.

“The question is: who takes that money?” He went on to say that the issue of OMSL, the senate investigated and directed the suspension of Secure Anchorage is still in place and they are still collecting charges for a responsibility that should be carried out by NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.

“I am one of the people that believe that the shipping companies are the major problem in the country, I am shifting grounds in view of what I have seen. The blame doesn’t go to them alone, chunk of it goes to government agencies as well”.

He however stated that the high charges slammed on shipping companies should not be a justification for their failure to have holding bays.

He continued: “Imagine if you have 500 container on a vessel, how much that will be. Now Nigeria is an empty containers dump site. Why would Shipping Companies abandon their containers? A container

cost about $10,000 to build abroad. Minimum Freight is $2000.

“So if a container goes five times in a year, it has covered the money used in buying it. Logically, no marketer would abandon his container here.

“There are some shipping companies without holding bays. For example, assuming the Maersk line brings in 5000 TEUs every month, do they have holding bays for 5000 empty containers?

“The answer is No. The problem has been either Maersk line or APMT. On the other hand, they may not be having much of a problem. If a vessel calls on a water, on each container they charge N136,000 (container charges for Shipping Companies) and when you are unable to return their container, they start slamming charges on you  that’s when you start depleting your deposit”.