Tin Can: Confusion over return of empty containers - PUNCH
BY Anna Okon
Importers and truck drivers in the Tin Can section of Apapa port are facing the challenge of returning empty containers to the terminals.
This is as a result of congestion arising from a combination of the deplorable roads and the ongoing road construction.
Our correspondent gathered that truck drivers who had tried to return empty containers to the Ports and Cargo Terminal in the area found it difficult to do so and the situation led to into a confusion.
Recall that the NPA had earlier devised a call-up system for trucks going into the ports to prevent a situation where a huge number of trucks enter the ports at the same time.
An official of the Joint Council of Seaport Truck Operators arm of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Ikeji, told our correspondent that it was one of the challenges they were facing in trying to return empty containers to the terminals.
He said more than 100 empty containers were taken to the terminal for delivery on a particular day but the terminal refused to collect them.
This led to the trucks remaining on the roadside where officials from the Nigerian Ports Authority came to challenge them that they were obstructing traffic.
He said the agency then intervened and made the necessary arrangement for the containers to be accepted into the terminal.
Ikeji decried a situation where there were too many empty containers at the seaport without proper arrangement to receive them.
He said, “Until the menace of surplus empty containers is resolved, this problem will not stop.
“The line of trucks with empty containers waiting to gain access into the port stretches from the port gate to Cele Bus stop on Apapa-Oshodi road.
“Somebody must be benefitting from the situation. What they do is that when it is time for people to come and carry the load from their terminal, they attend to the people quickly. But when it is time for them to take back the empty containers; they come up with all manner of delay tactics and excuses.
“They will even tell you that their system has broken down and they cannot work, just when you are about to drop the empty containers.”
Ikeji lamented that the empty containers in the hands of the truckers cost money because the longer they remained in their possession, the more demurrage they incurred.
While speaking to our correspondent, an official of the Ports and Cargo Terminal who spoke on condition of anonymity because he had no authority to talk officially on the issue, said the truck drivers obviously miscalculated the time the NPA had given them to call at the port and return the empty containers.
He said the management did not like the idea of trucks lining up on the roadside with the firm’s empty containers.
While reviewing the activities of the terminal in the first quarter of the year, the Group Managing Director, Sifax, owners of Ports and Cargo Terminal, Adekunle Oyinloye, said the terminal faced challenges due to the deplorable situation of the access roads.
He said sometimes it was difficult when ships berthed and they needed to discharge because there was no road for the laden containers to go out.
According to him, shipment is not complete until all the empties come back but if the laden containers cannot even go out, it will be difficult for the empties to come in.
Oyinloye pointed out that the situation posed challenge to ships that berthed, adding that if ships berthed and waited for too long to discharge, they would depart without taking the empty containers.