…Shippers Council Offers No Response
By ESTHER OLUKU
A leading freight forwarder has described the process of the aggregation of demurrage in terminals at Lagos seaports as unclear, full of lies, and bureaucratic.
Our source who would rather remain anonymous lamented that the unavailability of holding bays allows for outrageous demurrage charges to be heaped on shippers.
He stated that even though the ETO system of calling up trucks to the port has been effective, the autonomy of terminal operators has left a leeway for abuse of the demurrage system.
He revealed that some terminal operators manipulate the process, programming their system to calculate demurrage charges wrongly.
Our source said that certain terminals begin to charge demurrage on cargoes even before the vessel berths, increasing the cost of shipping which the end-user is made to bear.
“Some terminal operators start charging demurrage even before the vessel arrives because each of them has their own policy.
“It happens in some of the terminals and they say it is their system and you cannot do anything about it. You pay the deposit and won’t be able to get your refund back because the demurrage has swallowed it.
“My customer is paying more than N10million, N15million on demurrage and if you don’t pay this demurrage they will block your container and won’t release it so you don’t have a choice but to pay. They have forgotten that all these charges go back to the end-user.
“Enter the APM terminal; you see the place is so vacant, open. Receive the empties, they will not receive them. They don’t have holding bays and that is why you see all those trucks on the roads and they charge demurrage on it because the moment you pick the container is when you start paying the demurrage”, he said.
Our source stated that in some terminals, the processes are cumbersome and delay the movement of cargoes thus, the daily quota of cargo expected to be moved out of the port by such terminals are rarely met and government is constantly lied to.
“The terminal operators lie a lot. They are not being sincere with the government. They have some numbers of containers to be loaded and moved out daily. Are they doing that? No, you discover that at the end of the day, maybe it is 50 to 100 containers that are loaded out in a day.
“Some clients of mine have demurrage for one year because their containers are stacked in a way that they find it difficult to pick them for a full year! They have paid almost N9 million on demurrage. How did everything go wrong?”
Our source said that even though reports were made to the port economic regulator, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), no response has been given to ameliorate their plight at the time of filing this report.
“We have submitted our query to Shippers Council thousands of times. We went to the extent of giving them the debit note and did everything to tell them that this is what we are facing and yes, before the arrival of the vessel, they keep charging you. Nothing has been done”, he said.