Withholding of container deposits running into several billions of naira annually by shipping lines in the country have been attributed to the shipping firms’ insistence that the release of such funds must be to importers.
President of the Shippers Association of Lagos State, SALS, Jonathan Nicol, who disclosed this in Lagos, said that importers want to collect the refund for themselves.
Container deposit is a specified amount that the importer is made to pay as a guaranty for the return of the container after the goods in it have been discharged.
Nicol noted that most importers were not interested in the refund as it was part of the payment for the agents who made payment for all charges including the container deposit on behalf of the importer.
The SALS president wondered why the shipping lines would receive money from the clearing agents on behalf of the importers but refuse to refund directly to the clearing agent.
He stressed that these shipping firms were illegally holding on to monies as well as enriching themselves from such uncollected funds.
He commended efforts of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, to ensure return of such funds but noted that the shipping firms dragged the Council to court and that the case was still pending.
Executive Secretary of the NSC, Hassan Bello, had earlier said that the Council was working at getting insurance companies indemnify containers at the port and get the return when such containers were brought back.