MAJAN ROUND TABLE: Freight Forwarders On Collision Course With Terminal Operators, Vow To Shut Down Ports
…calls on Nigerian Shippers’Council to intervene to absolve itself of Allegation of complicity
…warns NPA to expect tripling of abandoned containers
By Jerry Aguigbo
Freight Forwarders Operating at Lagos ports have concluded plans to go on a Collision Course with Terminal Operators from Monday, 23 October, 2023 if the Terminal Operators do not listen to the voices of reason and revert the new terminal charges to status quo for a peaceful negotiation to prevail. Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, National Coordinator 100 percent Compliance, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Nagaff. Speaking at Roundtable organized by the Maritime Journalists’ Association of Nigeria, MAJAN on Friday, said that despite the glaring fact that the economy is biting everyone and there are needs for all business people to adjust to salvage their businesses, it still remains an injustice the way and manner the Terminal Operators woke up one day and jacked up charges without recourse to negotiations with freight Forwarders and without approval by the Nigerian Shippers’Council.
“It is an aberration, no single Nigerian will be happy with the mode of increment done by the Terminal Operators without consultations, they went as far as over 600 percent increase, they failed to consult the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) the Nigerian Shippers’Council, (NSC), Council For The Regulation Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria, (CRFFN) Nagaff and all the various Associations of Freight Forwarders who would bear the brunt of their arbitrary increment. How can they justify that we were paying 1,200 and they hurriedly leaped to 96,ooo plus for the third period of storage, it is killing and something must be done about it,” Tanko said.
Continuing, he added that recent complaint over abandoned containers may just be a child’s play. warning that NPA should prepared for more.
” Just recently the NPA complained about abandoned containers, they should wait, more are coming if nothing is done now. Because if containers spend 10 days at the terminal, then you are going to pay almost One million Naira to get it out. When you will capture, you go to the bank to make payment, you now come back and book for examination, let’s take APMT for instance, that examination you are booking will take you 3-4 days for them to drop it for examination, either through scanning or physical examination. Already you have spent 3-4 days before capturing and making payment, then add 3 days again.
Adding to this problem he mentioned, is benchmarking of Duty by the Customs. With this, you must pay N7.5 million per container from the PAAR office, wether you like it or not. After which you will get another alert where they may tell you it’s ‘suspected concealment,’ ‘differences between SGD and PAAR,’ they may tell you it is ‘low value’ or any other terminology. Meaning that after examination you have to either do amendment or go for valuation. You spend another 3-5 days, then to pay DN, if you’re given, it will take another 5 days. Now if you add all these days, we are talking about 10 days here, meaning you are going to pay N1.5 Million before you pick that container. No matter how quick you are,” he explained.
He added that the Terminal Operators have no right to increase demurrage charges, according to him, there is Storage charges, Handling charges and demurrage charges, ” they should separate these charges when they are talking, they have no right to increase demurrage charges, it is an aberration.”
Tanko berated Dr Collins Farinto, former AG. President of ANLCA for allegedly taking side with the Terminal Operators, ” I respect Dr Farinto but I am highly disappointed with him for speaking for the terminal Operators in favour of the increment. You see, we are not against increment per say but they should go through appropriate and proper channels, they never informed us about this, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has denied knowledge of it, so how come they are implementing this? ”
Hon. Tanko called out the Shippers’ Council to come clean with an explanation. “NSC owe us an explanation, they should come out to tell us if they are with Nigerians or with the foreigners who are making us face this unbearable hardship. ”
On the consequences of this and the likely line of action they will take to remedy the situation, Tanko said,”we have given them a 5 day ultimatum to reverse and come to the negotiation table, they are forcing us to use the last resort. We have been calming our members because NSC asked us to wait till Thursday, which was yesterday. NSC must answer us, they must tell us if they have compromised or not. This is a war situation and we must not back down now. This is sheer robbery and we are ready to face anybody supporting them squarely because that person can’t be speaking for us,” he warned.
Dovetailing into the ban on restriction of Form ‘M’ on 43 items lifted by the Federal Government, Tanko opined that, it is a good one,” we appreciate President Bola Ahmed TInubu for this but people are misinformed about it, by believing that these items have been unbanned. For instance, Rice in retail quantity is still CB until it is removed from the list, we are still waiting for the Customs to remove it from the list. We need to identify our problems and do the needful. If the FG has identified it, they should allow rice to come in to make the price fall, it will not kill production as expressed in some quarters, one needs to eat and be alive before thinking about production. Now look at it, you cannot even go to the farms because of insecurity. This issue of insecurity needs to be sorted out before farmers return to their farms. Yet again, we appeal to the Nigeria Customs Service to lift ban on these items, will the Customs remove them on their contraband (CB) list? The Circular must come from the CGC to us and to the CG from Minister of Finance, there has to be a Circular,to this effect,” he stated.