Business

Importers decry multiple charges

Lose N12.5bn monthly to liners

Shipping lines operating in Nigeria have another illegal fee – Containers Dentition (CDC) charges – added to the burden of importers and customs agents. It was learnt that with 1,500 trucks’ inability to access the port daily, importers are losing N450 million daily or N12.5 billion monthly to the liners.

The illegal fee is being collected by shipping lines over inability of importers or clearing agents to return their empty containers within a given period regardless of traffic gridlock on the port roads.

This is coming as Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) failed to compel them to provide holding bays for their empty containers. The importers have been paying container deposit forcefully for a decade as government failed to prevail on the liners. Other surcharges paid include Peak Season (PSS), Extra Risk Insurance (ERI)/ Carrier Security Fee (CSF), Congestion (CS), Freight Tax (FTS) and Operations Cost Recovery (OCR), Low Sulphur(LSS), Bunker Adjustment Surcharge(BAS) and Currency Adjustment Surcharge (CAS). Currently, 90 per cent of the shipping lines have no holding bays to warehouse their empty containers.

Like container deposit, clearing agents and importers are forced to pay new charges of N100,000 for a 20 feet container within Lagos and N200,000 for outside Lagos, while on 40-feet, the charge is N200,000 within Lagos and N400,000 outside Lagos.

Investigation revealed that if clearing agent fails to pay the money, the shipping line would flag the clearing agent’s licence, as well as the importer, in order to ensure that the money is paid in full whenever the importer uses the shipping line. The Managing Director of Otokpo Losgistics Limited, Mr Sam Elem, explained that if an agent or importer failed to return empty containers on time, his deposit starts depleting, saying that after deduction, the shipping company still claims more money on the ground that the importer was owing.

He noted that the illegal charges had added to cost of shipping, saying that agents and freight forwarders were forced to charge more money on container delivery. According to him, cost of transporting a 20-feet container from Tincan Island and Lagos Port to Ikeja, Agege and environs is N400,000, while a 40-feet container costs N500,000. He added that a 20-feet container to Amuwo Odofin, Okota and Satellite cost N450,000, while the cost of moving a 40- feet container is N400,000. Elem said that government should penalise or withdraw the licences of shipping companies involved in the illegal collections.

Also, the Vice President of Association of Nigerian Lisenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, said that the role of the various shipping companies in the industry had become a gang-up, noting that they continue to repatriate monies to their parent countries at the expense of Nigerians. He said: “Do you know that the shipping companies repatriate money to their mother companies abroad? On the container deposit, they deliberately frustrate us so that you would pay a lot of money, you deplete your container deposits to the extent that they now slam you with what they call Container Detention Charges.

This is what is happening now, everyone of them is smiling all the way to the bank and nobody is saying anything about it.” Also, the Chairman of ANLCA at Tin Can Port Chapter, Prince Segun Oduntan, alleged that terminal operators were equally benefiting from the scam called container deposits. He explained that container deposits should be scrapped in Nigeria because the country is not at war. Oduntan alleged that there were some powerful Nigerians and politicians collecting returns from these shipping lines, describing them as the cause of numerous challenges.

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