Apapa Gridlock: 3,000 Containers Attract N600m Retention Fees
An estimated 3,000 container-laden trucks which enter the ports in Lagos every day held in endless gridlock have their importers paying N200,000 deposit fee each per 20-foot container, summing up to N600m.
The fee is deposited by an importer when taking delivery of the cargo.
Shipping agents accept the fee as insurance against damage or delays in returning the container.
After failing to return the container after a certain number of days, the importer would forfeit some or all of the money.
About 4,500 trucks enter the port every day on legitimate business, according to a study by the Nigerian Shippers Council.
It was gathered that the amount could be higher than N600m when the deposit fees for a 40-foot container which is N400,000 and that of a 40-foot reefer container which goes for N800,000, were taken into consideration.
A maritime expert and the Chief Executive Officer of Hermonfield, Mr Tunji Olaosun, said the amount could be enough motivation for some vested interests to perpetuate the Apapa gridlock.
Stakeholders have maintained that the deplorable condition of the port access roads, especially the Tin Can and Coconut axes, had political and sinister undertone. They expressed the opinion that successive governments had deliberately refused to do anything about the road.
“There must be a sinister reason why that road is left that way. The government is making N4bn daily from the ports, it cannot be ordinary that they could close their eyes while the roads leading to the ports that they generate such huge sum deteriorate,” the Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, said.
Some stakeholders alleged that government agencies responsible for fixing the roads had been bribed heavily by the shipping agents to ignore the roads so trucks could queue up and importers could continue to pay container deposits and demurrages.
Olaosun said in order to address the situation, the Nigerian Shippers Council had initiated a technology called “unveil,” which when deployed would immediately put an end to payment of unjustified demurrage and go a long way in eliminating the gridlock.
He said the technology would ensure that free days set by shipping agencies only start counting after the Actual Time of Arrival of the cargo instead of the current practice where shipping agents start counting free days at the Expected Time of Arrival of the cargo.
He said once this commenced, terminal operators would be forced to speed up clearing process and be more efficient in their operations because they would know that there would be no demurrage charges arising from deliberate slow down of processes inside the terminals.