As reported exclusively by Shipping Position Daily last Monday, collection of the controversial port congestion surcharge introduced by CMA CGM takes off-today (Monday).
The levy which is about $400 is collectable on all goods destined for Apapa and Tin Can Island port in Lagos.
Although, CMA CGM had explained that the surcharge was to be paid by shippers from the port of loading, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has however fixed a meeting for today with all shipping lines operating in Nigeria.
In what appears to be a pre-emptive, Director of Special Duties of the Council; Mr. Ignatius Nweke said the meeting is in line with the Council’s statutory function of regulating tariffs, rates, charges and other related economic services at Nigerian ports.
"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", he added.
But, Shipping Position Daily investigations hinted that the shipping lines may not yield any grounds at today’s meeting with the Shippers’ Council, even as there are indications that others may join CMA CGM in the new surcharge regime.
A management staff of one of the multinational shipping lines confided in one of our correspondents last weekend that even though there was no gang-up against Nigeria by the shipping lines, more lines are likely to follow the line of CMA CGM soon.
“We have not met over the surcharge, but don’t be surprised if other lines introduce their own rates any time soon”
“We will meet with Shippers’ Council on Monday, but there may be no reduction, because the surcharge was not fixed by the agency in Nigeria. I am not speaking for CMA CGM, but that is the practice”, he told Shipping Position Daily.
“Remember it is only Lagos ports that are affected, the question is: Do we have the same situation in Onne, Port Harcourt or Calabar ports, the answer is No”, he concluded.
Recall that, in his first reaction, Managing Director of CMA CGM, Mr. Todd Rives had explained that it is the ship owners that are imposing the charge and not the shipping company.
He confirmed that the $400 levy 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.
According to the Rives "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 ship owners"
"The shipper determines if freight payable at point of origin is acceptable to them and has 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 affreightment 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", he had explained.