The epileptic power supply to most households across the country may continue as scores of containers laden with equipment belonging to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) have again been trapped at the Lagos seaport, LEADERSHIP has gathered.
The containers contain important parts and equipment that are essential to the provision of constant electricity to Nigerians.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the containers have accrued several millions of naira in demurrage and storage charges from terminal operators and shipping companies.
The containers, investigation showed, have been in the port since 2019 and have taken up huge space in the port, contributing to congestion, hence, the urgent need for the containers to be evacuated.
However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) having met with representatives of the two government agencies last week, waded into the issue to ensure evacuation of the containers.
A source who craved anonymity informed LEADERSHIP that NDPHC has 69 of the trapped containers currently in the custody of MSC Shipping company.
The anonymous source said that both NPDHC and TCN lamented that the containers came into Lagos port in 2019, and payments were made in December of the same year, but the outbreak of COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown in the early part of 2020 made it impossible to clear the containers and release them from the custody of the shipping companies and the terminal operator.
The source said: “They acknowledged the fact that the containers have been trapped for so long, and they would have accumulated rents and demurrage but, the representatives of both TCN and NDPHC pleaded with the Shippers Council to prevail on the shipping companies and the terminal operators to grant them waivers.”
“They also pleaded with the immediate past executive secretary of the Nigerian shippers council, Mr Hassan Bello, who presided over the meeting that the consignments be released and that the council should stand as a guarantor, pending when necessary payments will be made.”
Another source at the meeting confirmed that the shippers council’s boss directed that another meeting should be called to see whether the affected terminal operators and the shipping companies would accept the guarantee to be provided by shippers council.
He, however, expressed worry about continued abandonment of containers in the ports, saying the council receives several complaints about containers that have been abandoned since 2017.
“They are accruing demurrage and occupying space at the terminals, this is causing congestion at the terminals”, he lamented, adding that such containers are liable for auction by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
When contacted, the spokesperson of NDPHC, Funke Nwakwo, confirmed that the company’s containers were trapped at the Lagos port and the management was on the verge of evacuating them from the seaport.
She explained that she has no detailed information about the meeting held between the Nigerian shippers’ council and the NDPHC, but the knotty issues surrounding the trapped containers have been resolved.
“I know they went for a meeting last week and the meeting was to resolve knotty issues surrounding the evacuation of the containers from the port,” she told LEADERSHIP.