A group of importers has commended the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) for intervening in the illegal transfer of containers by terminal operators and shipping companies to off-dock terminals at extra charges to the owners of the cargos.
In a statement, a prominent freight forwarder and Chief Executive Officer of G-Mayor Resources and Links Limited, High Chief Austin Azubike Ekweozor, said the intervention came at the right time to save importers the huge costs being imposed on importers as a result of such transfers accompanied with charges.
Ekweozor identified six companies who according to him have expressed appreciation for the intervention of the ports economic regulator on the issue of illegal charges on transfers of containers.
He named the companies as De Skyegosons Global Ventures, Benza Solutions Enterprises, Munich Marketing Links Ventures, Metal Rolling Company, Crone Ballistics Syncro Cradle Ltd, Ramatu Models Scop Inter Biz Limited and Bolivia Unique Enterprises.
He said that the immediate intervention by the Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr Hassan Bello and his management team was a bold regulatory pronouncement to check the series of extortive charges by the terminals.
“It is for this reason that we want to express our collective appreciation to the Council for coming out boldly when it matters most. This prompt and bold regulatory pronouncement made by the Council came at the right time because the extortive charges have negative effect on our businesses”, he said.
He however called on the Council to ensure that it follows up to ensure that its pronouncement on the illegal charges is obeyed by the operators.
Ekweozor said his clients and many other importers have continued to suffer billions of Naira losses in the hands of the terminal operators and shipping companies for over 20 on the issue of illegal transfer.
He added, “ our Clients have suffered and are still suffering so much business suffocation and financial losses running into billions of Naira in the past 20 years in the hands of the terminal operators and shipping lines.
“In anticipation, our clients strongly believe that, they and other Nigerian Shippers stand to save meaningfully if the Council effectively implement the said pronouncement. They therefore, beckoned on the Nigeria Shippers Council to open up Shippers Collaboration Forum in all the international markets to engender rich operational dialogues.
He promised that the importers were ready to work closely with the Council towards achieving regulatory goals. “We believe that regulatory implementation and compliance requires a collective responsibility”, he added.
It would be recalled that the Council had warned the operators against the practice, reminding that based on on “international standard and recognised practice, freight paid at origin covers movement of cargo to final port of delivery at destination”.
The terminal operators were reminded that “cargoes earmarked for transfer to off-dock terminals, at the request of the shipping company, seaport terminal operator or off-dock terminal, without the consent of the consignees or their authorized representatives, should not attract charge(s) against the consignees”.
“The ports economic regulator said considered the action of the operators as “unethical and unwholesome”, adding that it has resolved. that all service providers must be guided as follows:
“1. Import cargoes should be delivered to the nominated port of destination as stated in the Bill of Lading;
“2. Where the operational convenience of the seaport terminals or some other prevailing circumstances necessitate the transfer of cargoes from the seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, the concerned consignees or their authorized agents must be notified in good time, and must not be charged the cost associated with such transfer, including barging cost;
“3. Storage and demurrage charges on cargoes earmarked for transfer from seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, without the consent of the consignee, should take effect only after arriving at the designated off-dock terminals.
“Consequently, all transfer charges collected from consignees of cargoes transferred from seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, from 1st June, 2020 to date, at the instance of the shipping companies/agencies, seaport terminal operators or off-dock terminal operators, without the consignees requesting for such transfer, must be refunded to the consignees immediately. Failure to refund such charges will lead to the Council invoking its regulatory powers to enforce compliance”.