There is uncertainty at the nation’s seaports over the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) directive to terminal operators and Shipping companies to suspend collection of demmurrage and storage on cargoes already at the seaports.
Recall that the NPA had in a letter dated 2nd April 2020 with reference number HQ/GM/MRS/OP.L1/Vol ii/347 signed by the General Manager, Monitoring and Regulatory Services, Ugo Madubuike for the Managing Director, and a copy obtained by LEADERSHIP, she directed the terminal operators to provide relief for businesses by suspending rent charges on consignments.
According to the letter titled, “Relief Measures To Port Users Due To Outbreak of Covid-19” directed to the Managing Director of Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML), the authority said the rent free period should start from Monday 23rd March 2020 for initial period of 21 days.
It reads, “Following the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in Iine with the global trend of providing reliefs to businesses for the benefit of the general populace, you are hereby directed to suspend rent charges on consignments with effect from Monday 23rd March 2020 for an initial period of 21 days.
“The Authority recognizes the financial implication of the policy on your terminal and is considering a shift in our operational charges to ameliorate the situation.
“This is presented in line with the objectives of the Ease-Of-Doing-Busines, as well as the sensitivity of the Authority to the current situation and sustenance of national economic activities and for immediate compliance.”
However, while clearing agents raised the alarm of continued collection of demurrage and storage fee, the terminal operator have called for re-definition of the directive so that importers won’t take advantage of the relief period.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the Vice President, Association of Nigerian Liscenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto accused the terminal operators and the shipping companies of flouting the 21-Days waiver directive of the NPA.
According to the ANLCA Vice President, “The NPA wrote to all the terminal operators that from on the 23rd of March, 2020, terminal operators and shipping companies should grant a 21-Days waiver on demurrages and storage charges at the ports.
“We have copies of the letters written to the terminal operators and shipping companies by the NPA dated April 2, 2020. However, despite the letters written to the terminal operators and the shipping companies, nothing as changed at the ports.
“Clearing agents are still paying demurrage charges and storage charges at the ports. It is I.portant we let the world know that the operators ha e refused to comply with NPA’s directive on waiver of shipping and demurrage charges.”
Speaking, the General Manager of Five Star Logistics Limited, Wolfgang Schneider said the relief measure to port users due to the outbreak of Covid-19 was a good intention by the NPA but needed to be redefined.
According to him, cargoes that have used over a year at his terminal cannot benefit from the rent free period.
His words, “The rent free period has to be redefined be people may take advantage of it. Though, it is a good intention but it has to be defined because for instance cargoes that is in our terminal for half a year no way will such cargo benefit from this period.”
“The time is not too long and we are ready to work as long as we can to make the economy working,” he said.