Freight forwarders shut Apapa port over demurrage waivers

Freight forwarders shut Apapa port over demurrage waiversFreight forwarders on Thursday locked up the entrance doors of one of the leading seaport terminals at Apapa over the failure of the terminal operators to comply with the Nigerian Ports Authority’s directive on demurrage waivers for goods stored there during the lockdown.

The NPA had directed terminal operators to grant initial waivers of 21 days effective from March 23 on storage and demurrage to ameliorate the impact of the lockdown on owners of the goods.

The agency also extended the waivers by another two weeks till April 26 following the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown by the Federal Government.

It was gathered that some terminal operators refused to comply with the directive, arguing that the terms of the waiver agreement needed to be well documented and deliberated upon by the Federal Government and the operators. Some, however, complied.

Following the refusal of the terminal operators to grant the waivers, freight forwarders under the five major associations in the sector held a meeting on Thursday with the Apapa Port Manager, Funmilayo Olotu, and decided to stop all their members from taking delivery of cargoes.

Confirming the development, the National Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, said the freight forwarders had locked the entrance door to the terminal and prevented agents from going in to transact business.

He said, “We have stopped all terminal delivery orders. The terminal operators had complied before but they reversed the waivers, saying that they were going to debit us for all the waivers they had granted.

“They explained that their foreign head offices had queried the waivers.”

The Chairman, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Apapa Chapter, Chief Dom Onyeka, said freight forwarders had stopped writing  the TDOs to take their containers.

He said freight forwarders were asked to come and work during the outbreak of  coronavirus with the promise that storage and demurrage would be waived.

He added that since the terminal operators were not acting on the directive, the agents would not work.

Onyeka said Olotu had promised to call a meeting of all the agents, shipping companies and terminal operators on Monday, to try and resolve the conflict.

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