Licensed customs agents in the country are planning a legal action against Terminal operators and shipping companies over their refusal to refund the N1.5 billion waiver granted to importers, customs agents during the Covid- 19 pandemic last year.

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In a petition to the federal government through the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), the customs agents decried the flagrant disobedience of the federal government’s directive that terminal operators and shipping companies refund the collection of demurrage and rents during the COVID- 19 lockdown.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had directed that all terminal operators should suspend all applicable terminal storage fees (demurrage) on consignments for an initial period of 21 days effective March 23, 2020. It also extended the demurrage-free period by another 14 days from April 13, 2020.

In another memo issued on April 8, 2020, the NPA had said it would, “grant credit notes commensurate to the rental reliefs granted by the terminal operators to importers within the 21-day free storage period.”

Also, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) had directed all shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges on cargoes during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown effective March 30th, 2020.

National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, explained that “The letter dated 13th January 2021 ECD/P/251/T/VI addressed to the NCMDLCA on waiver of both terminal and shipping companies waiver on the days of the lockdown, which cumulated to 35 days for the period, which conform with principle of force majeure restricting the movement of all agencies especially the importer and licensed customs agents who were mostly affected.”