Nigeria’s largest association of customs agents, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has told its members to keep evidence of payments of storage and demurrage charges for future claims.
The advice came about three weeks after terminal operators and shipping companies failed to honour a directive of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to suspend storage and demurrage charges for an initial period of 21 days due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the country late February.
Ayokunle Sulaiman, a chieftain of ANLCA, said that the association has told its members to compile receipt of all payments to shipping companies and terminal operators at this time.
According to Sulaiman, some agents have decided not to pay the demurrage and storage because even the operations at the port is still skeletal for now.
He lamented that only two shipping companies at Nigerian ports are actually digitalised for online transactions.
“The COVID-19 has exposed the weakness of the shipping lines in Nigeria. “Only MSC and Maersk shipping companies have digital operations and they are trying their best. Another problem is that less than 10 percent of the banks are working right now. There are shipping companies that if you don’t go to the bank, you cannot make payments. Examples are COSCO Shipping, Ocean Network and others,” he said.
Babatunde Mukhaila, national secretary of ANLCA, had said recently at a press briefing that if shipping companies and terminal operators refuse to abide by the NPA directive to suspend demurrage and storage charges, ANLCA would drag them to court.
He said the association would test the power of NPA to regulate or give directives to concessionares in the port.
“We are going to compile all the money our members have paid and we would fight for it, this would be the first time we are going this route, enough is enough with all collaborations that does not yield any fruit” Mukhaila had said.