Following the gridlock on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway occasioned by the dilapidation of the road, importers and agents now pay more for demurrage and return of their empty containers.
According to an agent, who spoke to Daily Sun on the condition of anonymity, the shipping firms make it difficult for them to return their empties because they want the agents to lose their deposits. The agent said that before they take delivery of their cargo, they would deposit N100,000 for each container, which they are expected to return within a given timeframe. If they fail to do so at a record time, they would lose their deposit.
However, the loss, he said, has become a recurring decimal because of bad road. In the event of returning these containers, the drivers spend two weeks or more between Mile Two and Tin Can and the shipping companies will not consider the frustration. All they want is their deposit.
Worse still, when the drivers get to the security gate of the companies they are forced to bribe their way before they are allowed to drop their empty contianers. “Because of the nature of the road now, we, the terminal operators find it difficult to drop our empty containers. Our drivers, sometimes, spend two weeks or 10 days on the road. On getting to the point of dropping the empties, they will be told that such empties are no longer accepted in that terminal or that they don’t have space for that particular shipping company. When you insist, they will ask you to part with something,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, “when our driver went to drop two of our containers, they said they no longer accept Maskline containers.
“But if he insists, he can give them N22,000 for the two containers in the truck. This is outside the deposit for these containers.
“For a 20ft container, we deposit N100,000 and 40ft container attracts N200,000. If the drivers are not able to return the containers at the appointed time, they will charge demurrage knowing full well that the road is not accessible,” he said.