By Kenneth Jukpor
Following the uncertainty and non-compliance that trailed the 21-days free storage period for terminal operators directed by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Authority has revealed how it intends to reward compliance.
In a letter circulated to terminal operators yesterday signed by the General Manager, Monitoring and Regulatory Services, Ugo Madubuike for the Managing Director and obtained by MMS Plus newspaper, NPA highlighted the compensation terms.
According to the letter, NPA would grant credit notes commensurate to the rental reliefs granted by the terminal operators to consignees within the 21-day free storage period.
The letter dated April 8, 2020, with reference number HQ/GM/MRS/OP/L.1/Vol.II/371 titled; “Re: Relief Measures To Port Users Due To Outbreak of Covid-19” read;
“The compensation will only cover cargoes situated in your terminal within the period under reference. The terminal must produce evidence of delivery records indicating waiver of rent for the period in reference”
“The compensation shall only cover storable cargoes within respective terminals. The compensation shall only cover charges approved by the Authority and published by the terminal. Any charge outside these will not be accommodated”
The letter clarifies the ambiguity lamented by terminal operators on the 21 days free demurrage period directed by NPA as it is a follow-up on an earlier NPA letter titled, “Relief Measures To Port Users Due To Outbreak of Covid-19” disseminated to terminal operators on April 2, 2020.
The directive to suspend rent charges on consignments with effect from Monday 23rd March 2020 for an initial period of 21 days was targeted to provide relief to businesses following the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Authority earlier stated that it recognized the financial implication of the policy on terminal operators and assured a shift in its operational charges to ameliorate the situation.
Speaking on this yesterday, the General Manager of Five Star Logistics Limited, Mr. Wolfgang Schneider said the relief measure to port users due to the outbreak of Covid-19 was a good intention by the NPA but lamented that it needed to be redefined.
According to Wolfgang who was speaking when his terminal hosted Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) management, the rent free period has to be redefined to get compliance from terminals and enable people take advantage of it.
“Although this is a good intention but the terms and conditions have to be defined. For instance, the cargoes that have been in our terminal for over six months should not benefit from this period,” he said.