The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has summoned all shipping line agencies in Nigeria to a meeting over the planned introduction of $400 congestion surcharge on all importation destined for Lagos and Tin Can Island Ports.
The meeting is slated to hold at the council headquarters in Apapa on October 15th, 2018.
In a press statement signed by Mr. Ignatius Nweke, Director of Special Duties of the Council, the meeting is in line with the Council’s statutory function of regulating tariffs, rates, charges and other related economic services at the Nigerian ports.
Shipping Position Daily had reported exclusively on Monday that French shipping company, CMA CGM had announced the introduction of $400 congestion charge at Lagos and Tin Can port, a development which has since attracted a lot of criticism from maritime operators.
Shippers’ Council said that the new charge would further add to the cost of doing business at Nigerian ports.
The statement by Nweke stated that the Council "would on Monday, October 15, 2018, meet with shipping agencies in Nigeria over the planned congestion surcharges on Apapa and Tin Can Island ports by some shipping companies"
The letter added that: "The meeting which is in line with Council’s statutory function of regulating tariffs, rates, charges and other related economic services at the Nigerian Ports would afford it an opportunity to examine this contentious issue which would add to the costs of doing business at the Ports"
However, in a letter to the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) CMA CGM has cleared the air, saying that the surcharge is not to be paid by clearing agents in Nigeria but by the shipper at the port of loading.
He said the surcharge is not applicable to shipments for which a contract of afreightment already exists as freight would have already been agreed before carriage.
Mr. Rives said the shipper determines if freight payable at point of origin is acceptable to them and not the clearing agents. The letter is coming few hours after the Vice President of ANLCA, Dr Kayode Farinto issued a press release threatening that the association would not hesitate to arrest and drag the CMA CGM boss to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should he go ahead to collect the congestion surcharge.
According to the Rives "We wish to inform the association that the charge in question is a prepaid charge which is paid at the port of loading (origin) by the shipper. It is an operational based charge not imposed by CMA CGM Nigeria as a local agent but by the shipowners"
"The shipper determines if freight payable at point of origin is acceptable to them and have the right to choose which line they will enter into a contract of carriage and we cannot compel them to ship with us"
"Furthermore, the operational charge is for clarity, not applicable to shipments for which a contract of afreightment already exists as freight would have already been agreed before carriage. So, no additional retroactive cost can be applied, and no such charge is collected from the receivers in Lagos Nigeria"
"We confirm that no invoice has ever been issued by our local agency, CMA CGM Nigeria for this operational charge and this can be verified from your members who are our esteemed customers"
"We are at your disposal to meet and further clarify the misconception regarding this matter and thank you for your continuous understanding", he said.