As the fear of the dreaded Coronavirus (Covid-19) heightens, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has written to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, seeking for a force majeure especially as it concerns importation and exportation of goods into the country.
ANLCA in a letter, a copy of which was sent to Shipping Position Daily on Friday and titled, “The Need For "Force Majeure" As It Concern Imports & Exports In Nigeria” signed by its National President; Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike, also called for a total lock down of the nation’s seaport as a way to fight the further spread of the deadly disease and to save the lives of Nigerian workforce.
The association also appealed to the federal government to prevail on shipping companies, terminal operators and other agencies in the ports to be prepared to waive all charges, taxes and fees during this period of national compromise.
“We also appeal to the Federal government to prevail on shipping companies, terminal operators and other agencies in the ports to be prepared to waive all charges, taxes and fees during this period of national compromise at all levels. Consequently we seek for all demurrage, rents, penalties etc emanating from inability to clear cargoes as at when due from the ports at this period to be waived effective from the first week of March, 2020 when the first case of the deadly virus was detected in Nigeria through an Italian citizen”
Explaining further,Nwabunike said that it is totally difficult if not impossible to process customs documentation and take delivery of cargoes in our ports during this period.
“Even when attempts are made, it becomes difficult because state governments have closed interstate borders, markets are locked and movement of certain vehicles restricted. We now have a situation and irresistible circumstances that make the plea and activation of ”force majeure" in line with international best practices inevitable”
Nwabunike however said that the open letter has become necessary in order to create a conflict-free and friendly business operating environment, even after this national pandemic is over.
The ANLCA president however lauded the federal government for the measures taken so far in the fight against the further spread of the virus.
“We are happy with measures already taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria to fight the Coronavirus (Covid19) scourge in a bid to stop the spread of the virus in Nigeria. We at ANLCA are in full support and we have since last week shutdown our National Secretariat and advised our numerous members across the country to practice the self distancing and obey the stay at home order as issued by the Federal Government in its efforts to help contain the spread of the virus which may be occasioned by moving from offices to ports and to various homes”, the association said.
He however reiterated that the measure should be enforced with immediate effect.
“Sir, please note that we are dealing with concessionaires, shipping companies and others who are mainly foreigners, hence the need for government intervention and enforcement has become necessary. We also want to use this medium to assure the Federal Government of Nigeria that ANLCA and all its members across the country will support the government and all its agencies in the ports to make sure government achieves its objectives in making sure activities in the ports return to normal, especially in collecting revenue to the government”
“Your Excellency sir, there is no gain saying that before the Covid 19 pandemic subsides for normal businesses in the seaports, airports and border stations to take it full swing, imported and exported items might have been trapped in the various gateways to the nation. As such demurrages and rent payable to Shipping Companies, Concessionaires/Terminal Operators will have attend an unbearable proportion due to the lock down”, he concluded.