Why shipping companies litter ports with empty containers – Shipowner

Lagos ports

A shipowner and former President of the Nigerian Association of Indigenous Ship-Owners Association, Aminu Umar, has explained why shipping companies find it difficult to remove empty containers.

Aminu, who spoke in a telephone conversation with our correspondent in Lagos on Sunday, said taking back empty containers was like accepting empty vessels, which was of disadvantage to shipping companies.

“As the container stays before you take them out, you should be able to get an export cargo. The biggest challenge that I am seeing is that no shipping line wants to take an empty container because what it means is that you are taking an empty vessel. Yes, it means you are taking an empty truck with nothing inside it.  For instance, if you use a truck to take some cargoes to the North, you will expect the truck to return with something, but if the truck goes and there is nothing in it, what it means is that you have an empty container. The shipping companies that are taking empty containers are losing.”

He said that shipping companies were looking for export cargoes to take out instead of going with empty vessels.

“So, what they are trying to do is to move the containers when they have the cargoes to move. They may load cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seeds or cotton, but there must be something inside. The majority of terminal operators are actually liner companies. They are terminal operators and shipping companies. If they are complaining, it means they can do something about that,” he said.

It will be recalled that terminal operators are in the habit of littering the nation’s seaports with empty containers because of their inability to either provide holding bays or ship them back to their ports of origin.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service has said that the recent $3.2bn agreement with a Chinese-led consortium, Africa Finance Corporation, and China’s Huawei Technologies Limited, will not take away the core functions of the service.

The National Public Relations Officer, of the Service Timi Bomodi who said this in a WhatsApp chat recently, restates that the agreement will not cede the entire operations of the Service to the Chinese-led consortium.

“This agreement does not cede the core functions of the Service to any entity”

It will be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service recently signed a concession agreement worth $3.2bn with Africa Finance Corporation, and China’s Huawei Technologies Limited to digitalise operations of the border security and revenue collection outfit of the Service, with the Federal Government expecting to generate over $176bn from the deal. And since then experts have been saying this move will indirectly take away the functions of Customs officers to the AFC.

Shedding more light on the details of the concession agreement, Bomodi, explained that the concession agreement only covers the provision of modernization/Information and Communication Technology infrastructures for Customs.

According to him, “For the umpteenth time, the concession agreement only covers the provision of modernization and ICT infrastructures for Customs.”

“The Service has been working with Webb Fontaine as technical partners from the Automated System for Customs Date era to Nigeria Integrated Customs Information Service. As technical partners, all they did was manage our ICT infrastructure whose operations were focused on enhancing imports and exports.”

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