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Freight Agents Indict MSC For High Cost At Nigerian Ports

Importers oppose planned reintroduction of pre-inspection of cargoes at seaportsBy Kenneth Jukpor

Freight forwarders practicing at the Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) environs have accused Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) as the biggest factor inflating the cost of doing business at the port.

The shipping company came under serious criticism for its lack of container holding bays which has led freight agents and importers lose exhorbitant charges paid as container deposit.

Speaking with MMS Plus at the weekend, the Chairman, TCIP chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Olusegun Oduntan admonished Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to intervene in a bid to curb the systematic extortion by shipping companies.

Oduntan revealed that the ANLCA Tin Can Island chapter carried out an investigation to unravel the factors responsible for the high cost of utilizing TCIP and the numerous challenges in the port and its environs.

According to the veteran freight forwarder, the outcome of the investigation showed that MSC was responsible for most of the containers abandoned on trucks, leading to demurrage and loss of container deposits.

His words: “Agents don’t have access to MSC to resolve the myriad of issues that come with their services. The company claims to be online but you can’t make payments in less than five days. Once you take their containers, you are sure to spend more than one month before you can successfully take it back. As a result of this long duration, people lose the container deposits which is usually over N200,000. This is really sad and it contradicts the much publicized ease of doing business agenda of the government.”

Noting that NSC has allocated members of staff at port terminals to streamline inefficiencies and regulate economic factors, he lamented that the working conditions of MSC and some terminals is evidence that NSC isn’t carrying out its regulatory functions.

Also speaking on the challenges, the Public Relations Officer at Tin Can Island Chapter, Mr. Emma Onyeme, posited that 80% of empty containers littering the port access road, especially the Tin Can Island Port corridor is owned by MSC.

The association also alleged that MSC Shipping had designated Ports and Cargo Terminal as its holding bay, however, the terminal operator has no distinct space mapped out for that purpose.

“A container that leaves for places like Ladipo or Ikeja takes almost two months to get back to the port. MSC has introduced a system that converts trucks to their holding bays. They only instruct Port and Cargo to start calling on MSC containers when their vessel arrives the port. Can we continue with such kind of operations? What has NSC done about this to protect importers and Nigerians? How do we expect trucking charges not to be inflated when trucks have become MSC’s holding bays?” He queried.

According to him, as the port economic regulator Shippers’ Council should prioritize addressing the challenge which leads to inflated cost of imported goods and services across the nation.

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