Shippers’ Council move to save shippers from excessive container deposit charges

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As a way of resolving the perennial problem of container deposit refunds between shippers and shipping line agencies, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has appealed to shipping agencies to stop the collection of the deposit.

Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary of the NSC admonished the shipping lines during his working visit to the agencies in Lagos.

Bello lamented that 80% of the complaints received by the Council from shippers and freight forwarders bother mostly on failure to refund the deposits made by the shippers within the stipulated time of 4 working days after returning the empty containers which a times leads to the shippers forfeiting the deposits.

He also queried the indemnity issued by freight forwarders even as he said she it is not legal.

Executive Secretary said, “One other use issue we are here to discuss is the issue of container deposit refund.

“If you recall, we have had agreement with shipping companies to return these containers deposits within four working days but we rather you don’t take the deposit at all which is doable.

“You can come up with a system where we can work it out because it constitutes 80% of the complaints that we have.

He however condemned the situation where shippers are made to pay for demurrage incurred in the process of returning the containers when there is nowhere for them to drop the empty containers.

“Most of these shippers will want to return these containers but they have nowhere to return them and the demurrage starts counting, that is not good ethical practice.

“The indemnity that the freight forwarders issue, I think it is not also a very good practice. The relationship should really be between you and the shippers.

“That indemnity may not be totally legal but we have to look at it. The whole idea is to create a balance where your interests are protected and also the interest of the shippers”.

In his response, Ascanio Russo, the Managing Director of Grimaldi Shipping Nigeria Limited said that the shipping line paid refunds within 3 days after the application is sent in to the agency and it is ascertained that the containers are returned in good shape

While explaining the level of automation of the Agency, Russo maintained that all clearance process in the agency have been automated but regretted that clearing agents still cluster around the port.

Meanwhile the Director, Customer Service Central and West Africa of Maersk Line, Razak Ngula said about 1,600 containers belonging to the shipping lines were still being held by shippers..

He stated that the container deposit is not to recover the value of container and that container refunds were done within three days. to the customers.

His words, “1,600 boxes are still not returned and they are needed for voyage. The deposit is not to recover value of a container.

“We ensure that the refund process is smooth and can be done within 3 working days, ”Ngula stated

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