Following clearing agents outcry against the imposition of demurrage on cargoes that were trapped at the ports during the EndSARS protests, the Shippers Council (NSC), has called on shipping companies to ease the hardship on importers.
The Head, Public Relations, NSC, Rakiya Zubairu, in a statement, said: “Nigerian Shippers Council is working with shipping companies to find ways to ease the hardship occasioned by the disruptions,”
Zubairu said that activities at Apapa, the port city of Lagos, are gradually returning to normal, as the Lagos State Government has eased the curfew by pronouncing that residents can move freely between the hours of 6 am and 8 pm.
Admitting that the activities of the past week caused a lot of disruptions for shippers, just as it did during the COVID-19 lockdown, she said the Council is working with the necessary stakeholders to relieve the pain.
“Several discussions are taking place between the leaderships of the Council and shipping companies in Nigeria to find ways to accelerate the clearing of cargoes from the terminals and collection of the same by shippers who were unable to access the ports.
“Both sides are mulling the removal of demurrage charges on cargoes as one of the ways the hardship of shippers can be alleviated. The Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, will also visit some terminals to progress discussions on the waiver and other issues,” she said.
The freight forwarders had earlier warned that any attempt to impose demurrage and storage charges on trapped goods in the ports would be resisted.
The National Coordinator, 100 per cent Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Ibrahim Tanko, made this known in a letter.
He said: “We expected the shipping companies and terminal operators to show some concern, love, solidarity, and pity for the Nigerian youth and importers, who have lost their loved ones or property in the struggle to put Nigeria on the track of good governance.”
The group said NAGAFF’s 100 per cent Compliance Team would resist any attempt to exploit its members, describing the shipping companies and terminal operators’ action as insensitive and wicked.
It vowed to mobilise other associations, truck owners, clearing agents, and port users to protest against the impunity and block the ports access gates and entrances until their demands were met.
“We, therefore, enjoin the shipping companies and terminal operators to refund the fees to those who have already paid with immediate effect,” the letter added.
Also speaking on the development, Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, said he expected the shipping companies and terminal operators not to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped in the ports due to the #EndSARS protests.
“What happened was beyond anybody’s control. The protest led to the breakdown of law and order, and the Lagos State Government had to impose a curfew. Under such circumstances, nobody could come to the ports to clear cargoes.
“Even the ports were closed down. If the protesters could touch the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Head Office in Marina, then we expect the shipping companies and terminal operators to understand what happened last week.
“Any attempt to impose demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped in the ports will be resisted. We will write the NPA on this because we won’t pay for what we didn’t cause,” he said.
– The Guardian said