Comrade Hassan Bello, Shippers’ Council ES,CEO
The League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) has supported the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on its plan to introduce insurance cover on empty containers, used in importing goods into the country, as a replacement for the deposits being paid by importers , saying that it is a measure that will give a boost to the economy.
Nigerian importers have over the years paid the sum of between N150,000 and N200,000.00 as container deposits to multinational shipping agencies on the agreement that they would be refunded the deposits, once the empty containers are returned.
But shippers have continued to lament that many shipping companies do not keep to the terms of the agreement, when the empty containers are returned.
In a State of the Nation Press Statement, the League said such insurance cover would address the cries of shippers, whose refund is denied by shipping companies when the empty containers are returned.
The statement which was signed by the President, Mr Kingsley Anaroke and the Secretary General, Mr Francis Ugwoke, said such insurance cover will not only end the nightmares faced by shippers on the issue, but will save them and the nation, billions of naira being pocketed by the shipping companies through some bottlenecks.
Noting that importers pay as much as N200, 000 on one empty container, the group said it was better for the shipping companies and the shippers to consider collaboration on the payment of the insurance sum.
For instance, the Group disclosed that the shipping companies can decide to insure its empty containers by asking for contributions from the shippers who will pay specific amount as part of the insurance cover.
The group added that the introduction of insurance cover as a replacement for payment of container deposit was also a boost to the nation’s insurance industry as it would increase the rate of employment in that sector and have a positive impact on the economy.
The statement commended the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as the ports economic regulator for such novel initiative, adding that it will save the shippers huge sums of money being lost to the shipping companies who use all sorts of tricks to deny the shippers the refund when the empty container is returned.
Shippers and freight forwarders were advised to support the move by the Council as it will end payment of container deposits and the nightmare experienced in getting refund.
The group urged the Council to continue with the initiative by negotiating with insurance companies on the possible insurance cover for such empty containers.
According to the statement, the Council should do more by compelling the shipping companies and shippers to key into the idea as the best for the industry and national economy.
Urging the two parties (shipping companies/shippers) to accept the arrangement, the group stated that the plan remains a transparent policy in which no one will be cheated.
“Any of the parties, either shipping companies or shippers that do not accept the policy if introduced, will not be seen as honest. It will save Nigerian importers billions of Naira that are being taken away by shipping companies who on return of the empty containers come up with stories around the refund. Besides, it will boost the nation’s economy with a lot job opportunities”, the statement said.
The group reminded shipping companies that it was only in Nigeria that container deposit is being demanded from shippers, adding it was not in practice in other maritime nations.
Noting that some shippers could be in the habit of not returning empty containers which is the reason for collecting deposits by shipping companies, the group said the insurance remains the best option to settle the problem.