Importers, Agents Berate NPA, NSC Over N150bn Charges
Importers and clearing agents at the seaports have raised the alarm over the plan by shipping firms to introduce and force them to pay additional charges on dry, reefer, Out of Gauge (OOG), break bulk cargoes coming to Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and Tin Can Island port.
New surcharges introduced by CMA CGM, it was learnt, would attract $500 for a 20-feet container and $1,000 per 40-feet container.
A maritime business analyst and importer, Mr. Badmus Adegoroye, told The Nation that due to the coronavirus pandemic, container shipping lines have started rolling out illegal surcharges on West African mainline trade routes.
Adegoroye said from June 1, “importers of goods from Asian countries would be forced to pay extra charges on dry, reefer, Out of Gauge (OOG), break bulk cargoes coming to Lagos and Tin Can Island port.
“Before introducing the new charges, Nigerian importers have been paying over N150 billion unfair multiple surcharges introduced by foreign shipping companies on Nigeria-bound cargoes.
While calling on the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) to collaborate with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to address the issue, Adegoroye wondered why shipping lines, such as CMA CGM and COSCO Shipping, were waiving detention and demurrage fees in other foreign ports, but imposing same on West African ports, including Nigeria.
The importer expressed worries over the surcharges imposed on Nigerian-bound cargoes by the shipping lines, noting that they were responsible for the high freight rate in the seaports.
Apart from peak season surcharge and freight rate surcharge, he said other abnormal charges could be bunker adjustment, currency adjustment or security, which is called war risk.
Others are extra risk insurance surcharge, freight rates surcharge and port operations recovery surcharge
“Other liners that have introduced surcharges are Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd,’’ he said.
But a senior official of one of the shipping firms at the Lagos ports who craved anonymity, said the liners had been losing between $300million and $350million weekly since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“For instance, a 9,000 Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEU)-capacity ship pays about $500,000 to transit the Suez Canal on the way to India from Europe or $1 million for both ways before getting to its destinations,” the official said.
The senior official also revealed that one of the shipping firms was “planning to restore general rate on dry, reefer, OOG and breakbulk cargoes coming from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
He said the quantum would be $500 per 20-feet container, while 40 feet container remained at $1,000.
But the Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, said they were not happy with the development because “this is the second time within two months the shipping companies would introduce Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on Nigerian import and export cargoes and it seems they are having a field day.
“One of the companies has slammed surcharges on cargoes from Indian subcontinent & Middle East Gulf to Lagos ports under the pretence of providing its customers with reliable and efficient services as if they have the alternative on efficient service delivery.”
Investigation revealed that the other affected importing countries are Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.