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Shippers’ Council Declares N144,000 Congestion Surcharge Illegal



Respite has come the way of Nigerian importers as the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has described the recently – introduced congestion surcharge by foreign shipping giant CMA/CGM as illegal, null and void.

This was even as the leadership of clearing agents at the seaports asked Nigerian importers to boycott their shipping company over its planned introduction of surcharge.

In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday, executive secretary of the council, Barr. Hassan Bello, bemoaned the planned introduction of the congestion surcharge without the input of the council. He said until the council gives a go-ahead, the surcharge remains illegal.

Bello said, “There is no such charge. There is nothing like that and if there is an intention to do that, it is null and void. Until they have negotiated with the Nigerian Shippers Council and until Nigerian Shippers Council gives them the go ahead it will be illegal.”

However, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has described the introduction of the congestion surcharge as an illegality and a criminal offence. In a press statement to LEADERSHIP by the vice president of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, the association advised all Nigerian importers to stop shipping their cargoes through the company.

He argued that already, shipping companies collect N60,000 administrative charges on all 40 foot container, despite the contract of affreightment entered into by the importer and the shipping lines abroad and payment of freight.

He said, “We have carefully looked at the proposed congestion surcharge being planned on Nigerian bound cargo by CMA CGM, which will commence by 15th of October and we want to say that, we don’t know why it is being proposed because we don’t have congestion at our ports, there are questions that need to be asked when you talk about placing surcharge on a cargo.

“The first one is contract of affreightment which has been entered into by the importer and the shipping lines, if you now slam a charge on them called congestion surcharge, the question is do we have congestion at our ports? The answer is no,” he said.

Farinto said the new charge by CMA CGM equals N144,000 and it was like milking Nigerians dry.

According to him, this cannot happen in advanced countries.

“This is obtaining money under false pretense which is a criminal offence, and if CMA CGM goes ahead to collect this charge,we  would arrest the MD of CMA CGM and drag ourselves to EFCC, whatever is collected from Nigerian importers would be paid back to them.”

He said that shipping companies were the main reason why cargoes  were not being moved out of the port as expected because they lacked a holding bay that can hold the number of containers they ship into Nigeria.

In a circular issued on Friday, CMA CGM said, “Port congestion at Lagos ports, Nigeria, is currently increasing our operational costs and generating severe service disruption for several weeks.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) threatened to drag  the managing director of CMA CGM Shipping company, Mr. Todd Rives to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should the company go ahead to introduce the proposed congestion surcharge on Nigerian bound cargoes.