Freight forwarders in the country have stated that the movement of containers to bonded terminals, also used as container holding bays, by shipping companies in Nigeria is not practicable.
The system was suggested to aid decongestion of Apapa by encouraging agents to transport their empty containers to shipping companies’ depots by sea instead of moving them by road.
Agents said the reason for rejecting the idea was that the bonded terminals were situated inside the city, far away from the sea.
“The idea does not make economic sense. The shipping companies all have their bonded terminals in the town instead of in coastal cities where the barges can move by sea and deliver the containers directly to the terminals,” the President of the International Freight Forwarders Association, Dr Sam Onyemelukwe, said.
According to him, because the bonded terminals are located in the towns not close to the water, the moment the barges deliver the containers, the agent or importer will have to still convey it by road to its final location.
He said there was an extra cost associated with such practice because the agent was expected to pay for the barge transportation and then take responsibility for transporting the container from the barge to the shipping company’s bonded terminal.
He said the containers that are delivered to the bonded terminals will still be transported by road to the shipping companies’ seaport terminals in Apapa for loading into vessels.
The ideal practice would be for barges to move empty containers directly from container depots to seaport terminals via the waterways instead of the current practice, he said.
Earlier, freight forwarders complained of extortion associated with the exercise, alleging that they were being charged N150, 000 to transport cargoes in barges to bonded terminals.
A former Chairman, IFFA, Tin Can Island chapter, Sunny Nnebe, said, “It is an effort in futility because it amounts to duplication of charges.
“It will also lead to delays because, by the time they load and discharge, demurrage will be counting.”
Nnebe said agents preferred to continue carrying empty containers to Apapa by road saying that if some of the roads that have been rehabilitated are open, the traffic along Apapa access roads would reduce.
A maritime expert, Tunji Olaosun, had observed that stakeholders would not subscribe to the movement of cargoes in barges because of the associated cost.
He said the system would only work if the shipping companies took responsibility for barge transportation.

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