Ports Congestion: Customs Agents Appeal for Waivers on Demurrage

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By Eromosele Abiodun

Following the seven days industrial embarked upon by truckers at Apapa ports to protest alleged extortion by security agencies, which has since been called off, customs agents have appealed to terminal operators and shipping companies to grant them waivers on demurrage which had accrued on the consignment that were trapped at the ports during the crisis.

This is just as some licenced customs agents and freight forwarders in the maritime sector have threatened to stop paying customs duties and other charges to terminal operators and shipping companies on account of the industrial action.

The Vice- President of the Western Zone of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Ibrahim Tanko made the call in a letter of appeal written to all the service providers.

Tanko, who was speaking on behalf of all his colleagues, noted that the strike action was not their own making, hence his appeal for demurrage waivers.

Speaking to newsmen at Apapa port, the customs agents said it was wrong for customs to keep charging duties while demurrage and rent kept accruing for agents and importers to pay.

The representative of customs agents said there should be an understanding after the industrial action has been called off, and the need for terminal operators to waive some demurrages.

“At Grimaldi now, people are still writing TDO, I have finished my job since last week, but I have not taken the delivery, now I have to go and re-rate at N169,000. The transporters meant well, they have given enough time for NPA to address the situation and the alleged extortion”

“Government is collecting duty and that is why they don’t want to intervene, and we are the cause of it. If we stop paying duty for two weeks and no money is going anywhere, they will seat up. But as it is, it doesn’t concern them, the government has collected their money, “he said

Also, a licensed Customs Agent, Mr Ojo Akintoye lamented that the nine days industrial action affected operations.

He however stated that, “The good news is that the truck owners are holding series of meetings with the government and they are looking for a permanent solution to the problem of articulated trucks.

“The strike action has had nothing to do with revenue, the Nigeria Customs Service are collecting their revenue, the terminal operators are dropping containers for examination and they are also ready for the delivery of cargoes.”

Meanwhile, port operators may now heave a sigh of relief as the stand-off between truck drivers and the Nigerian Navy over alleged extortions in the traffic call up system has ended.

For almost two weeks, the truck drivers, protesting the alleged extortion by the Naval officers, Nigerian Ports Authority officials and the operatives of Lagos State Transport Management Authority  (LASTMA ) involved in the Apapa traffic call up system, disrupted port activities when they embarked on a strike action.

However, it was after the intervention of the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, that the truck drivers agreed to shelve their strike action.

The Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi, who had confirmed the resumption of services in a chat with THSIADAY in Lagos, explained that the industrial action was suspended after a meeting that was attended by NARTO, AMARTO, RTEAN, NPA and the Navy