Polls Delay: 40 Ships Lose $28m In Demurrage
Not less than 40 ships have suffered losses amounting to over $28m in demurrage owing to the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections that were earlier scheduled for February 16.
Our correspondent learnt that the affected vessels were both the ones in the upstream and downstream sector of the economy that were unable to discharge their cargo because all the terminals had been closed for the past two weeks.
It was gathered that most of the workers that were supposed to offload the vessels had travelled ahead of the postponed elections and did not return even after the polls were postponed.
The factional Chairman, Nigerian Indigenous Shipowners Association, Aminu Umar, told our correspondent in an exclusive interview that all the ships with refined products were affected and they had been stuck in the country for the past two weeks.
“They were unable to evacuate their products because all the terminals had closed down. The postponement of the election was for one week and all the drivers and workers that were supposed to evacuate the vessels did not come back.
“Most of them returned on Tuesday after the presidential and National Assembly elections,” he said.
While counting the losses of the rescheduled elections, a maritime expert, Tunde Olaosun, had said that the real losses were suffered by the ships that had been stranded in the country and that could not leave on schedule.
He said that the ships concerned had to spend $50,000/day on demurrage.
He said, “Before one can bring a vessel into a country, there is charter party agreement between the owner of the vessel and the person chartering it. The most common charter agreement is the pay-per- time agreement where the charterer pays per the time of the use of the vessel.
“That arrangement entails stipulating how long the charterer wants to hire the vessel, the lay-day and lay-time, (that is when I charter your vessel from Indonesia for instance, we will agree on how long the vessel will take to arrive its destination, how long it will take to discharge the cargo and return to its base).
“If the vessel stays at the port of arrival beyond the days in the agreement, it starts attracting demurrage and demurrage for a day is about $50,000.”
He added, “That is why people struggle to get to berth and do a quick turnaround. When a port operator is not working, it is a major loss for the people bringing in vessels.”
“Delay is a major economic problem. That is why some vessel owners are saying that they will charge extra for waiting.”
Another expert, Dr Vincent Nwani, estimated that the government lost N1.83bn in Customs duty and other port charges as a result of the postponement of the election.