Clearing Agents Sing Discordant Tunes Over Refund Of Demurrage   

Amidst confusion over the recent news about payment of refunds of demurrages and fees by shipping companies and terminal operators, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) said the association will soon secure a refund of N15 million paid by its members during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The demand is coming barely one week after the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) said the association has been able to secure refund of N60 million for 100 members of its association.

Speaking with our correspondent the Public Relations Officer of NAGAFF, Mr. Stanley Ezenga explained that the association has so far gathered about 65 receipts from its members who paid the demurrage and storage fee charges during the lockdown.

Ezenga informed that although individuals in the association have been seeking for their refunds on personal basis before now, he said the association has however decided to take it upon itself to seek refunds for its members, he said the refunds for the 65 members would amount to about N15 million.

“Actually for now we have not done it collectively, because we are yet to collect receipts from those who paid even though we are still compiling the receipt, but so far we have about 65 people who have submitted their receipt, the refund payment for this 65 people should be around N15 million” he said.

On its part the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) also confirms that members of the association are already getting their refunds through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

Speaking with our correspondent Ralph Agbogu , the National Public Relation Officer of NCMDLCA confirmed to our correspondent that members of the association are already getting their refunds, but could not ascertain the total amount paid so far.

Meanwhile, some members of ANLCA have said they are yet to receive any refunds; even after submitting their receipts

The Head, Research and Development of ANLCA, Mr. Pius Ujubuonu said so far he is yet to see anyone who has got the refund, he said although he was aware that NSC directed the shipping firms and terminal operators to drop a certain amount of demurrage during the lockdown period, but that some of them didn’t comply.

“We are aware that NSC has made most of the shipping companies to drop a particular percentage of demurrage during the lockdown period.

“Some shipping firms tried as much as possible to waive though, but not as much as they were told. Most terminal operators were adamant or not responding at all.

“I wouldn’t really know the level of enforcement from the NSC. We know that they mentioned and wrote about it, but enforcement is the first thing,” Ujubuonu said.

Ujubuonu, disclosed that the compliance level is very low adding that so far, he is yet to see anyone who has collected any refund.

“I don’t know the number of people that have got the refund. I can’t categorically say that the compliance level is optimal. I am not very sure,” Ujubuonu said.

On his part Mr. Anthony Anakebe a member of ANLCA disclosed that most of the shipping companies are not complying with the directive of the Shippers’ Council, adding that most of them don’t have the required information.

“Most of the shipping companies are not complying with the directive of the NSC. Most of them don’t have the information required. But, we are watching them.

“As at now, most of the companies we work for have not got anything from shipping companies or terminal operators.

“If NSC says they secured it, where is it? You can’t tell us you secured something and we didn’t receive it.

“I know of many containers that have shipping charges worth over N4 million and no refund yet,” he said.