Freight Forwarders Lament Huge Demurrage As Seaports Remain Scanty
The two major ports in Lagos, Apapa and Tin Can Island, were on Monday without their usual buzzing crowds, three days after the elections were postponed. This is also as freight forwarders put the losses of the logistics sector at over $100m due to the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, February 16.
The operators explained that this was due to the fact that most people who travelled had put off coming back until after the polls that had been rescheduled for February 23.
While speaking exclusively to our correspondent on Monday, the Zonal Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, remarked that there was no work at the ports on Saturday and ships did not berth.
He said operators had worked half day on Friday in anticipation of the elections on Saturday.
He said, “Vessels did not berth because operators were not at work. Even fishing vessels were not allowed to operate at the creeks.
“Many people had travelled home on Friday to vote.
“Over 180 million Nigerians ended up sitting idle at home when the elections were postponed and each of them did not spend anything less than N5,000.
“Currently, most of them cannot come back to the ports because they cannot come back and go back again to vote on February 23.”
The Founder, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, said the cancellation of the elections had an impact on earnings in the sector.
He said, “Time is money and the port is very strategic to the economy. When a vessel is idle, somebody is spending money.
“Before the cancellation, Friday was unofficially work-free day, there were many loaded containers that could not leave the port and each of them cost N350,000 to transport within Lagos. The delay from Saturday till today (Monday) is also attracting demurrage.
“Most people could not come back from the trip they took on Friday because they are unable to secure flights.
“The situation could lead to voter apathy because if they manage to come back, they may feel reluctant to travel back to vote.”
A transporter and an official of the Joint Council of Seaport Truck Operators, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Ikeji, said the election postponement cost transporters money as many of them did not work.
The operators had expressed fears that the elections might be postponed again come February 23 because of the length of time the Independent National Electoral Commission had to sort out issues that led to the postponement of the February 16 elections.
“I think one week is too short to prepare for another election if they could not conduct the election after preparing for it for four years.
“They should have given themselves at least two weeks and also engaged consultants to aid in working out the modalities for the next exercise,” Aniebonam said.