Indications have emerged that if urgent steps are not taken, Nigerian ports might witness fresh crises over shipping companies and terminal operators’ plans to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped at the ports during the #EndSARS protests.
Freight forwarders have warned that any attempt to impose demurrage and storage charges on trapped goods in the ports would be resisted.
The 100 per cent Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), in a letter to the Managing Director of Maersk Line Nigeria Limited, appealed to all shipping lines and terminal operators not to charge demurrage and storage on cargoes during #EndSARS period.
The letter, signed by National Coordinator of the team, Ibrahim Tanko, reads: “We have been informed that some shipping companies and terminal operators have started charging storage and demurrage for this period of #EndSARS protest without consideration for safety of lives and property.
“First consideration in any crisis period globally is security of lives and property. It is unfortunate that the reverse is the case in Nigeria and we say no to that action.
“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 stated that 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 break down 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.