No fewer than 2000 cargo boxes were reportedly lost by Maersk Nigeria Limited in 2021 as result of the failure of importers, freight forwarders and customs agents to return the empty boxes.
Maersk Line noted that it could not track the boxes as many of the addresses and phone numbers supplied by the importers were invalid.
Mrs. Nkechi Oni, Counter Team Lead of Maersk Nigeria Line, made this known while responding a question on delay on repayment of Container Deposit Fund (CDF) at a workshop organised by the 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on a synergy between freight forwarders and shipping companies, terminals, truck owners and government agencies in Apapa, Lagos, yesterday.
Mrs. Nkechi Oni, who noted the her company is still tracking the lost boxes, said that freight forwarders experience delay in getting repayment of their CDF in full or not because many do not comply with the stipulated time for the return.
“It is impossible for importers or freight forwarders to get their refunds pay on time when they owe us. We do not delay payment of CDF but when you do not return our boxes at the stipulated times, it will be difficult to get paid. You cause this problem. We are collaborating with customs agents and freight forwarders to ensure quick return of our boxes,” she said.
On internet failure, Oni said that Maersk Line does not have problem with network failure, saying that they quickly communicate to their respective clients whenever there is network failure. “We made it easy for our customers to lodge their complaints,” said she.
On the missing cargo, the guest speaker and the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Eugene Nweke, former President of NAGAFF, advised Maersk Line and other shipping companies to lay hands on customs agents if they cannot bet importers. He noted that it if shipping companies are losing money as a result of non-return of containers, freight forwarders and customs agents lose money too over non-refund of CDF by the shipping lines.
Nweke who spoke extensively on the operations of various stakeholders and the need to up their operations for quick cargo releasing advised freight forwarders and customs agents to do their needful so as so to get their CDF on time. He also advised freight forwarders and customs agents to repackage and merge for them to compete favourably.
Nweke averred that many port terminals in the country handle fewer boxes per hour in a day as container stacking is high up to six boxes, which, he said, means there is congestion in the port. According to him, “we cannot continue to work under perpetual congestion at the ports. Who pays for the loss?”
Responding, Mrs. Nkechi Oni said “we have a team whose duty is to call on customers regarding the return of their boxes. We do not only call but also write letters to our customs.”
Mr. Godson Chukwu, a freight forwarder and former Public Relations Officer of NAGAFF Tin Can Chapter, said that payment of CDF is not peculiar to Maersk Line but all shipping companies, saying that over 90% of letters requesting payment of CDF are not being attended to by shipping lines. He added that after boxes are returned, several months after CDF is not paid by the shipping lines.
Earlier in his address, the National Chairman of the NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko said the purpose of the workshop was to create a synergy with all the stakeholders involved in cargo clearance and seek for ways to solve various problems mitigating smooth cargo clearance.
He maintained that there ae a lot of issues bordering on cargo releasing at shipping companies, in the terminals, noting that the bodies of freight forwarders and customs agents had wanted to withdraw their services months back but was stopped because of prevailing reasons.
Tanko said that with this synergy all these problems would be resolve, assuring that NAGAFF members and other freight forwarders are ready to work with all stakeholders to ensure smooth release of cargo in the nation’s seaports.