NSC demand shipping companies refund container deposit to shippers

Matthew Otoijagha

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has asked shipping companies to keep to the agreement reached by both parties requiring them to refund container deposit within four days to shippers.

The Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, made the call on Monday when he led some management staff of the Council on a visit to the offices of Grimaldi Agency, Mearsk Line and CMA CGM in Apapa.

Bello said clearing agents and importers have been complaining of the long period it took shipping companies to refund container deposit over little dent and scratch. According to him, issues bordering on refund of container deposits constitute 80 percent of complaints received by the NSC.

He said, “We have had agreement with the shipping companies to return container deposits within four working days. I hope that will be kept. We rather prefer you don’t take the container deposit at all which is doable.

“Some shippers will like to return container, but they have nowhere to and the demurrage starts counting while it is no fault of theirs. That is not good ethical practice. The shippers complain that the refund of their deposit takes a long time and sometimes they abandon this deposit to the detriment of their businesses. We have the indemnity that the freight forwarders issue; I think it is also not a good practice.”

Bello charged the container carriers to extend demurrage-free days from three to 21 days to accommodate circumstances beyond the making of the importers, agents and transporters.
He also urged the shipping companies to de-emphasize demurrage.

“During gridlock, when the port is inaccessible, what can you offer in terms of consideration? You should have consideration to shippers such as 21 days free period else, there will be gridlock upon gridlock in the port area.

“We look into it and by extension to 21 days free time that will accommodate circumstances that is not anyone’s making. The charges must be according to service rendered and according to what people know that have been rendered and as a big player, we expect you to give general consideration to your customers,” he said.

Bello said the goal of the council is geared towards protecting the interest of the shipping companies and shippers by creating a balance between both parties.

Responding, Director, Customer Service, Central West Africa of Maersk Line, Razak Ngula, said about 1,600 containers belonging to the shipping line is still hanging with customers. He stated that the container deposit is not to recover the value of container and that container refunds are done within three days to the customers.

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