Tension at seaports over demurrage charges

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By Seun Ibiyemi

Trouble may arise at the nation’s seaports over plans by shipping companies and terminal operators to slam demurrage and storage charges on cargoes trapped at the ports since last Tuesday when the #EndSARS protest shut down cargo evacuation processes.

In a letter titled, ‘Appeal to all Shipping Lines/ Terminal Operators Not to Charge Demurrage/Storage during this #EndSARS lockdown period’, and addressed to the Managing Director of Maersk Line Nigeria Limited by the National Coordinator, 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, warned that any effort to slam demurrage and storage charges on trapped goods inside the ports will be resisted vehemently.

The letter issued over the weekend stated that, “Following the #EndSARS Nigerian youths protest which has lasted for more than a week now; the NAGAFF 100% 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 the safety of lives and properties.

“First consideration world over in any crisis period is the security of lives and properties. It is most unfortunate to note that otherwise is the case here and we want to say a BIG NO to that.

“We had expected our shipping companies and terminal operators to show some sense of concern, love, solidarity and pity to 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% Compliance Team will not fold its 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

“We will mobilise in a most civil manner other associations, truck owners, clearing agents and port users in a placard carrying protest against this impunity and block the ports access gates and entrances until our demands are met.

“We, therefore, call on the shipping companies and terminal operators to refund the fees to those who have already paid with immediate effect.”