Protests rocked Apapa as freight forwarders move against the imposition of N557,077.50 on an empty container that was not returned on time to a Japanese shipping firm, Ocean Network Express.
They revealed that the shipping agency refused to release goods worth billions of naira to an importer for failing to pay the amount.
The empty container was reportedly used in a previous shipment and was not returned until after 38 days.
The freight forwarders had said the truck carrying the empty container was involved in an accident causing the police to detain it for 38 days.
They claimed the shipping line was adequately briefed about the accident and carried the firm along in all the developments and that the shipping line seemed to show understanding initially, only to turn around and impose a demurrage cost on the container when it was eventually returned.
The freight forwarders urged their counterparts in Nigeria, Japan, Singapore and China to shun the shipping line.
They also reportedly petitioned the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders.
The Chairman of the association, Apapa chapter, Mr Ndubuisi Uzoegbo, said freight forwarders were hurt that Ocean Network Express lacked good customer care and had not showed any interest in building business relationship with Nigerian importers.
When consulted, the Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC, Mr Cajetan Agu, told our correspondent that he was not aware of the petition as such issue would naturally be directed to the complaints unit of the council.
He said if such petition had been received it would be investigated by the council.
He said, “What the council does in such cases is to investigate the complaint to ascertain its veracity and determine if it has merit. After that the parties will be summoned to a meeting and the party at fault would be required to pay.
“It is important to establish that the importer called the shipping line as soon as the accident happened, because container is an article of trade and the delay in returning it will naturally attract demurrage.”
Our correspondent got in touch with ONE and the Managing Director, Nigeria, Mr Lyndon Wood, said the company did not discuss client’s business with a third party.
He said any communication with the media had to be routed through the firm’s head office.
Also granting of waivers on any fees must be through the head office, he stated.
He described ONE as a very considerate firm with one of the best customer services around, advising the freight forwarder to approach the firm with a genuine case and all the facts and he would be attended to.

Infinity Tyres