BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos
Cargo congestion is currently rocking the Lagos ports complex as truck drivers and clearing agents have abandoned cargoes in various terminals across the seaports.
While the truck drivers are protesting against alleged extortion by security agencies controlling traffic on the port access roads to the seaports, the clearing agents on their own were unable to access the seaports due to the #EndSARS protest that grounded economic and vehicular activities across the state.
Clearing agents who were supposed to access the ports for cargo clearance were unable to get to the ports.
However, the non-clearance and non-evacuation of cargoes from the ports have triggered fresh congestion even as shipping companies and terminal operators are set to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped at the ports.
Recall that since Tuesday last week when the #EndSARS protesters spiralled to the ports, economic activities as well as cargo evacuation processes have become impossible.
However, clearing agents have urged the operators not to slam demurrage on consignments trapped at the ports due to the protest. In a letter titled ‘Appeal to all Shipping Lines/ Terminal Operators
Not to Charge Demurrage/Storage during this EndSars lockdown period’, addressed to the managing director of Maersk Line Nigeria Limited by the national coordinator, 100 per cent compliance team of the National
Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, the group warned that any plan to slam demurrage and storage charges on trapped goods inside the ports will be resisted vehemently.
According to the letter issued over the weekend and a copy made available to LEADERSHIP, Tanko, said, “Following the ENDSARS Nigerian Youths protest which has lasted for more than a week now, the NAGAFF 100 per cent 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 safety of lives and properties.”
According to him, “We had expected our shipping companies and terminal operators to show some sense of concern, love, solidarity and pity for 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 per cent Compliance Team will not fold it’s 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.”
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. In his words, “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 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.”