The Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) has opposed the impending increase in storage charges, slated to take effect from December 9, 2023.
Expressing dismay, AREFFN highlighted the challenges being faced, even as it criticized Maersk Line’s decision to escalate demurrage fees.
Speaking exclusively to Shipping Position Daily last week, the National Secretary of AREFFN, Frank Obiekezie informed that Maersk line has given intention to increase the demurrage charges effective from 9th of December.
Recall that terminal operators operating at the Lagos ports recently increased their charges by about 600 percent. After much agitations from stakeholders, the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) dialogued with the parties involved and having reviewed the parameters, the terminal charges were brought down to about 400 percent.
Obiekezie lamented that freight forwarders were not involved in the consultations, adding that the increment was forced on them. He added that the sharp increment is having an adverse effect on the economy like a time bomb waiting to explode.
In a sharp critique, the AREFFN scribe underscored the operational struggles within APMoller terminals, emphasizing the undue hurdles encountered by shippers to secure container examinations. He lamented the prevalent culture of irregular payments for examination bookings and the subsequent unpredictable examination timelines.
Speaking further, Obiekezie urged the NSC to intervene promptly on the matter, appealing for restraint against increasing storage and demurrage charges. He emphasized that such escalations should not proceed until terminal operators’ exhibit enhanced efficiency in handling the escalating volume of cargo.
AREFFN further highlighted the disparity between the amplified workload and the lack of corresponding expansion in handling infrastructure. They decried the practice of charging fees for services that remain unrendered, expressing concern over the severe repercussions these decisions might have on the Nigerian economy.
In his words: “To add salt to the injury, the shipping companies, particularly Maersk line, have given their intention to increase the demurrage charges effective from 9th of December. If you go to APMoller today, you will have to bribe to book an examination and when you do that, you are not assured of having a container dropped for examination in two weeks’ time.
“So to me, I’ll advise the Shippers Council, if they have the strength, to restrain all these shipping companies and terminal operators from increasing storage and demurrage charges until they have proven to them that they have the capacity to promptly handle the boxes in their terminals. This is because the volume of job has increased but without commensurate expansion in the equipment handling machines for handling containers.
“You can’t be collecting money for services you have not rendered and then the people who are supposed to control them are looking the other way. At the end of the day, it is the Nigerian economy that is suffering. Talking about the increment, they are about increasing more. There is no hope in the economy if we continue on this path” Obiekezie lamented.