CONGESTION CHARGE: ANLCA Declares ‘Trade War ‘Against CMA CGM, Threatens To ‘Arrest’ Shipping Line’s Boss

 The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has said that it would not hesitate to arrest the managing director of CMA CGM Shipping company, Mr. Todd Rives, should the company go ahead with the proposed congestion surcharge on Nigeria-bound cargoes, effective October 15, 2018.

Shipping Position Daily had exclusively reported the controversial congestion surcharge which range between USD 400 and EUR 350 exclusively on Monday.

While speaking with our correspondent at the ANLCA national secretariat yesterday, it's Vice President; Mr Kayode Farinto equally said the association would drag CMA CGM before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even as he described the impending charge as an illegality and its collection as a criminal offence.

He alleged that already, shipping companies collect N60,000  as administrative charges on a 40-foot container, despite the contract of afreightment  entered into by the importer and the shipping lines abroad and payment of freight rate. 

Farinto said the association is issuing a global trade alert on CMA CGM,  even as he advised all Nigerian importers to stop shipping their cargoes through the company.

He said: "We have carefully looked at the proposed congestion surcharge being planned on Nigeria-bound cargo by CMA CGM, which will commence by 15th of October and we want to say that, we don't know why it is being proposed because we don't have congestion at our ports, there are questions that need to be asked when you talk about placing surcharge on a cargo"

"The first one is contract of afreightment which has been entered into by the importer and the shipping lines, if you now slam a charge on them, the question is do we have congestion at our ports? The answer is No"

"Even if there are operational challenges in the port that attracts additional cost,  does this warrant slamming congestion surcharge on Nigeria-bound cargo? But because they have been doing it and nobody has challenged them, this time around we are challenging them and we are saying that it is illegal, it negates the Federal Government policy on Ease of Doing Business, and we are advising importers not to ship their cargoes through CMA CGM from 15th of October, they should look for any other shipping line that is not collecting such money and put your cargo"Farinto said the new charge by CMA CMA CGM equals N144,000 and it is like milking Nigerians dry, he said this cannot happen in advance countries. 

Speaking further he said, "This is obtaining money under false pretence, which is a criminal offense,  and if CMA CGM goes ahead to collect this charge, we would arrest the MD of CMA CGM and drag ourselves to EFCC, whatever is collected from Nigerian importers would be paid back to them" 

He said that shipping companies are the main reason cargoes are not being moved out of the port as expected because they lack  holding bays that can hold the number of containers they ship into Nigeria.

"Already,  there is the N60,000 administrative charge being collected by every shipping company on 40-foot containers, what is this charge for, haven paid for freight abroad? They look at Nigeria as a fertile land where you can make illegitimate money".

Shipping Position Daily had reported on Monday that, in an email on Friday, the company announced that effective October 15, 2018, cargoes from any part of the world on CMA CGM ships will attract extra “USD 400 / EUR 350 per 20' Dry and Reefer and USD 400 / EUR 350 per 40' Dry and Reefer”.

The frontline shipping line based its action on what it called disruption of its activities based on congestion in the two Lagos ports.

In the mail, it explained that: “Port congestion at Lagos ports, Nigeria, is currently increasing our operational costs and generating severe service disruption for several weeks.”

The mail added that: “CMA CGM will therefore implement the following Emergency Congestion Surcharge on Lagos import cargo, effective October 15th, 2018 (B/L date) for non-FMC trades and November 5th, 2018 (B/L date) for FMC trades”.

It also indicated that the surcharge is payable on categories of cargoes including: dry, reefer, OOG and break bulk.