The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) has called on the freight forwarders operating at the nation’s seaports to desist from the practice of demanding to be paid the container deposit refund by the shipping companies on return of empty containers to the ports.
The president of SALS, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol who gave this counsel in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recalled that the freight forwarder is a shipper’s contractor and that the contract between the freight forwarder is always tied to agency fee, meaning that a freight forwarder by Nigerian standard would take all the documents from the shipper to enable him clear through the customs while the importer pays all the bills.
Nicol noted that in recent times, multinational companies like DHL, now pick all the charges apart from customs duty on behalf of the shipper and when it comes to refund of deposits, shipping lines pay direct to the importer because the agent does not owe the container deposit.
In his words,” If he uses his money to pay, at the time he is putting up his bills, all his expenses will be in that bill including the container deposit. So, the shipper now pays you for your expenditures you made on his behalf including the container deposit. Shipping lines now know the importer not the agent as the owner of that money and that is what Grimaldi is doing. Grimaldi will not pay to any freight forwarder the container deposit whether or not he paid that with his own money but at the end of the day, you will prepare a bill including your agency fee, container deposit and all other charges in your bills and the shipper pays the bulk of the money. So, the shipper is entitled to get back his money, it is not freight forwarders’ money at all.
“You know why the freight forwarder does that? When they use your money, they take the deposit as part of their profit which is wrong. So, that aspect, the freight forwarders should detach themselves from it, it is not their money. The shipper even pays 5% of all the money they spent on behalf of the shipper. So, where is the freight forwarders’ investment in that transaction? He is not the owner of the goods, he should have paid the duty for the shipper and even if he pays, the shipper will still pay that with interest”.
The SALS boss therefore advised that the argument over who gets the container deposit should stop out rightly adding that they don’t want a situation where they would have a head on collision with shipping companies who he referred to as “our fellow investors”.
“The shipping lines are our own people, they bring in our cargoes not the freight forwarders, all the transaction documents are in the name of the shipper, the best they can do is notify party, then the agent’s name can be there and that is all.
“When it comes to payment, the shipper pays all the bills; the Standards Organization, NAFDAC, the shipper pays, container deposit, the shipper pays and refund should not be an issue the freight forwarder should say I use my money because he is taking 5% of whatever money he pays upfront by the time the shipper wants to pay him, then the shipper now waits for the shipping lines to pay him direct.
“So, it shouldn’t be an issue because at the end of the day, they will end up losing. How many agents return container deposit to their clients? If you have a well-coordinated contract and you have a customer that gives you job regularly, you can’t take his deposit”, he submitted.
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