Trouble looms as agents dare CMA-CGM over $400 congestion surcharge

Clearing agents and freight forwarders have vowed to disrupt the peace in the ports if the CMA-CGM goes ahead with its planned implementation of a $400 congestion surcharge on all Lagos ports bound cargoes.

It will be recalled that CMA-CGM had issued a statement recently claiming that due to disruption of port services and an increase in operational costs, it will begin the imposing of a $400 congestion surcharge on all Lagos bound cargoes by 15th of October, 2018.

Speaking to Nigerian Tribune exclusively, an agent Chibuzor Obi, revealed that agents are already looking at picketing the offices of CMA-CGM, or even disrupting port services to draw attention of the relevant regulatory agencies of government to what is happening inside the ports.

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According to Mr Obi, “How can a shipping company just wake up one morning and slam on Nigerians a $400 congestion surcharge when there is no congestion at the ports? They claimed that there was disruption of services, but that was a labour strike which is backed by Nigerian laws.

“Since the shipping company came up with that decree, none of the regulatory agencies in the ports have issued any statement on the issue. We have an economic regulator here in the ports, aside the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), yet agents are confused on what is going to happen after October 15th, 2018.

“It’s like the only language our leaders understand is resort to strike action, like what happened with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Is it until agents gather together to disrupt port operations or even picket the offices of the CMA-CGM that the relevant government agencies will intervene? Deliberations are ongoing amongst out leaders, and you journalists will hear from us very soon.”

In a separate chat, a freight agent, Obi Linus, backed the call for disruption of ports services by agents over the CMA-CGM congestion surcharge.

In his words, “I have heard of the planned protest by agents, and I am in full support of it, if that is what will draw the attention of government to our plight in the hands of all these foreign shipping companies.

“One thing I am sure of is that if agents don’t protest now, then other shipping companies will follow the step of CMA-CGM. Before we know it, the congestion surcharge will become part of the bills we will have to pay to take delivery of cargoes.”