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Trapped Containers: Operators, Clearing Agents Spoil For War Over N4bn Demurrage Charges



There is disquiet in the nation’s maritime industry over the 6600 containers trapped at the Lagos Ports complex during the six days strike action embarked on by truck owners and drivers over failure of the truck call-up system introduced to ease traffic congestion at the Tin-Can and Apapa ports in Lagos.

Since the strike was called off last Thursday, LEADERSHIP gathered that importers lost an average of N668million daily to demurrage that will be paid to shipping companies and terminal operators.

According to investigation, demurrage accrued in the six days was N4billion. With the development, importers and clearing agents are having running battle with one another over accumulation of storage and demurrage charges.

LEADERSHIP also learnt that while clearing agents are calling for waivers during the strike period, terminal operators remained indifferent saying they shouldn’t be held responsible for a strike action they knew nothing about.

According to a manager in one of the container terminals in Lagos, terminal operators will collect the demurrage accrued within the period under review. The source also said that rather than the agents forcing the waiver down the throats of operators, the government should engage them.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Liscenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Joe Sanni said clearing agents will not pay the demurrage accrued to terminal operators, shipping companies during the strike period.

In a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP, Sanni said Barr. Hassan Bello promised to visit terminal operators and shipping companies on how to reduce the storage and shipping demurrages.

Sanni who quoted the chairman of Tin-Can Island chapter of ANLCA, Segun Oduntan as saying that in a meeting with the Shippers’ Council boss,  Bello promised to intervened.

He said: “Coming out from the meeting with Shippers’ Council, chief executive will be going out on Monday to the terminals and shipping companies to tell them why they have to wave and refund back if they collect any during the strike.”

In a press statement made available to journalists by the assistant general manager, corporate and strategic communication, Isah Suwaid, the following shipping companies: Maerskline; Cosco Shipping; APS and Lansal have been suspended. According to the Authority, the suspension takes effect from Saturday July 14, 2018.

The suspension follows the NPA’s checks which revealed that the four companies have failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays as they have either failed to utilise their holding bays at all or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with.

‘‘Some of these companies have also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported thereby making the country a dumping ground for empties. According to the statement, at the expiration of this suspension, the Authority will review the level of compliance to its directives and determine further actions,’’ the statement read in part.

Stakeholders have also agreed that while the call up system through the ports management as advised by shipping companies will remain in force, personnel of the Nigerian Navy will discontinue the issuance of call ups, even though they will remain on the traffic management team.