Fresh crisis looms at Nigerian ports over demurrage, storage charges collection

Fresh trouble is currently brewing at the Apapa and Tin-Can ports over plans by shipping companies and terminal operators to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped at the ports since on Tuesday when the EndSars protest spiralled to the ports and shut down cargo evacuation processes.

In a letter titled ‘Appeal to all Shipping Lines/ Terminal Operators Not to Charge Demurrage/Storage during this #EndSARS lockdown period’, and addressed to the Managing Director of Maersk Line Nigeria Limited by the National Coordinator, 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, the group warned that any effort to slam demurrage and storage charges on trapped goods inside the ports will be resisted vehemently.

According to the letter issued over the weekend, “Following the #EndSARS Nigerian youths protest which has lasted for more than a week now; the NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team wish to appeal to shipping companies and terminal operators in Lagos not to charge demurrage or storage fees on cargoes trapped inside the ports.

“It has come to our knowledge that some shipping companies and terminal operators have already started charging storage and demurrage for this period of #EndSARS Nigerian youths protest without recourse to consideration like the safety of lives and properties.

“First consideration world over in any crisis period is the security of lives and properties. It is most unfortunate to note that otherwise is the case here and we want to say a BIG NO to that.

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“We had expected our shipping companies and terminal operators to show some sense of concern, love, solidarity and pity to the Nigerian youths and to those importers who have lost their loved ones or properties in this struggle to put Nigeria on the track of good governance. However, this has not been the case.

“On this note, we want to state categorically clear that NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team will not fold its hands and watch our members exploited for no fault of theirs. We will employ and invoke the spirit of Aluta Continua to resist and even oppose this wickedness by shipping companies and terminal operators.

“We will mobilise in a most civil manner other associations, truck owners, clearing agents and port users in a placard carrying protest against this impunity and block the ports access gates and entrances until our demands are met.

“We, therefore, call on the shipping companies and terminal operators to refund the fees to those who have already paid with immediate effect.”

Also speaking on the development, the Vice President of the 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 inside the ports due to the #EndSARS protest that rocked the nation throughout last week.

He said: “We expect the operators not to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped inside the ports due to the #EndSARS protest that rocked the nation last week. What happened was beyond anybody’s control. The protest led to a break down of law and order, and the Lagos State Government had to impose a movement restriction, so under such circumstances, nobody could come to the ports to clear cargoes.

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“Even the ports were shut down. If the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) head office in Marina can be torched by hoodlums, then we expect the shipping companies and terminal operators to understand what happened all through last week.

“Any attempt to impose demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped in the ports due to this will be resisted. We are going to write the NPA on this because we won’t pay for what we didn’t cause.”

Efforts to get the Spokesman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola to speak on the development proved abortive as calls and messages sent to his mobile phone were not responded to as at the time of filling in this report.

Also, messages sent to the Managing Director of one of the leading shipping companies in Nigeria, MSC Nigeria Limited, Andrew Lynch on the matter was not responded to as at the time of filling in this report.

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