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Fresh challenge frustrating ease of doing business at the Nigerian ports has been identified by the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) following the observation that Nigerian ports are gradually becoming a dumping ground for aged outdated containers.
The group’s president, Mr. Jonathan Nicol in an interview averred that “Many of the containers coming into the West African coast from Europe and Asia are old, leaking, rusted and cannot be accepted even back into Europe or Asia where they were coming from”.
He observed that about 50 per cent are unfit, adding that this is the reason why there are so many empty containers at the seaports occupying limited spaces.
Business Hilights recalls that the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, had in 2017, decried the littering of empty containers’ occupying nearly 40 per cent of spaces at the ports and recently ordered that empty containers’ cannot find their ways back to the ports unless so allowed by authorities.
Continuing in his argument, Nicol noted further that “These containers are not fit to enter Nigeria. Some of them are leaking. When the shipping firms hire them, because they are bad, the owners will tell the shipping companies not to return the containers to Europe.
“Because those containers cannot be exported, it now becomes a problem where they keep them. In those days, you are not even allowed to stack more than five containers, but it is a different scenario now.”
However, he proffered solution, saying time has come for the NPA to consider making erring shipping companies to pay $1,000 for storing containers anywhere within the port complex.
SALS boss argued further that “If we can pay container deposit, they should also pay $1,000 for storing the container in our land; and all of these things have to go by government rules and regulations. “And that is why we commend the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for saying that they should have a holding bay where they keep their containers and they are kicking against that. But I think we will be able to meet at a point where all of us will reach some agreement.”
Although the NPA has issued the warning against allowing empty containers within the port complex to overstay given time-frame, enforcement is yet to be seen in real terms.