$400 SURCHARGE: We will not pay for shipping lines’ inadequacies – Shippers Association

Rev. Jonathan Nicol

The Shippers’ Association of Lagos State (SALS) on Wednesday warned that the body would totally resist any any attempt by the CMA CGM or any other foreign shipping lines to impose additional $400 ‘Congestion surcharge’ stressing that the  Nigerian business community would not be made to pay for shipping companies’ inadequacies.

The SALS President, Rev. Jonathan Nicol stated this in Lagos, adding that SALS viewed this new charge as arbitrary, unfair and indeed, lacking economic sense, since the congestion mentioned above was not caused by importers and shippers, but by the failure of the shipping companies to provide holding bays for their empty containers.

“We have read  from online Report that Messrs CGM CMA has introduced  $400 dollars for congestion fee per consignment in addition to all other charges now in contest”, he posited, saying that Nigerians would not comply.

“The empty Containers are the property of the Shipping Lines who normally collects container deposits for their boxes in transit. On prompt return of the empty containers, the Importer can claim back his deposit.  It is a known fact that empty containers do not have access to the Ports with ease as before. And this is a riddle.

“Agreed the roads are bad. Admittedly,  but trucks have access into the Ports, either Apapa Main Port or Tin Can Island and PTML ports regularly.  And a total of 800 containers are cleared daily from the various ports.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello

“How did the trucks get into the Ports? Why can’t the trucks carrying more than 800 containers daily have access into the Ports to offload their empty boxes?

“Why should the Importer pay additional fee to offload the property of the Shipping Company in their premises again when all charges have been paid in advance?

“Who pays for the inconveniences of millions of Nigerians in various locations where empty containers and trucks have damaged their normal human lifestyle?

“The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Trade owe Nigerians explanations why container business is reducing the life span of their citizens  and they remain silent”, Nicol stated further, pointing out that the menace of the empty containers on trucks on our highways and suburbs should actually be seen as not only a nuisance, but a terrible security risks on residents along the routes in question; and which should demand the serious attention of the Economic Port Regulator, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority.

“Congestion fee should be passed on to the Shipping Lines and their subsidiaries, the Terminal Operators who receives the empty containers on behalf of their clients -the Shipping Companies, while awaiting export of the empty boxes.

“It is believed that at least a thousand empty containers should be exported daily since over 800  full loaded containers are delivered to various consignees daily. Shippers’ Association of Lagos State is worried and do not want to press charges on all the Port regulators. But these questions needs to be answered:

“It is indeed unfortunate that there is deliberate policy somersault of Government making the  Private Service Provider operate under unknown negative regulatory compliance”.

“We are law abiding and cannot continue to pay heavy local transport fare further. The local transport should be made to reduce their unreasonable charges for evacuation of goods from the Ports. If the Shipping Lines are held culpable, the Local Transport owners themselves should be held responsible for high cost of doing business in our Ports. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council should prevent the collection of such fees like local transport fare, congestion levy etc.

Conclusively, Rev. Nicol said SALS  would be glad to partner with other stakeholders to press for damages to our collective business downturn,  destruction of our hard earned infrastructures and compensation for those who lost their lives in the tasks of delivering empty containers to their rightful owners and also hold the Port Regulators responsible for their inability to induce sanity in the dispensation of their normal duties.