Freight forwarders have made complaints about terminal operators’ alleged refusal to accept the directive of the Nigerian Ports Authority that they should suspend all applicable storage fees (demurrage) on consignments for an initial period of 21 days effective March 23.
The NPA had revealed that the directive was issued in consideration of the pressure the COVID-19 pandemic was exerting on businesses.
As part of incentives to enable them to fulfil the demurrage waivers, the NPA had also agreed to waive some of the fees payable to the Federal Government by the terminal operators.
However, the concessionaires have reportedly been reluctant to implement the demurrage waivers as most of them have continued to demand charges for goods that have remained in their terminals beyond the free storage period.
Some of them who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said the arrangement was not properly structured, noting that there should have been a meeting between the government and the terminal operators so that the free demurrage is well discussed and the two parties can state what they expect from the whole arrangement.
The terminal operators insisted that the entire arrangement should be discussed and the terms documented.
The operators made reference to the situation in Ghana where the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority said it had not suspended demurrage fees on overtime consignment and rent charges at the port due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation led to a mild protest in one of the seaport terminals recently while a freight forwarder sent a recent invoice showing evidence of demurrage calculation from a terminal operator to our correspondent.
Responding to the situation, the NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Jatto Adams, told our correspondent that any agent denied the 21-day free demurrage should report to the port manager of the affected port.
He said the port manager would then forward the matter to the management for appropriate action.
“This is a Federal Government’s directive through the NPA and they have no choice than to comply to relieve importers (of the burden) during the lockdown caused by COVID-19,” he said.
Also, a leader of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Ayokunle Sulaiman, said the association had told members to compile receipts of all payments made to shipping companies and operators during the lockdown.
The National Secretary of ANLCA, Babatunde Mukhaila, had earlier threatened to drag terminal operators who refused to implement the waivers to court.

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