Waiver on Demurrage : ANLCA talks tough, threatens action
.Calls for strict regulatory measures by NPA
.Concessionaires must comply with directives on waiver- Says ANLCA President, Mr Tony Nwabunike
By Udeme Clement
The National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr Iju Tony Nwabunike, has revealed that many weeks after Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, ordered suspension of storage and demurrage charges for initial period of 21 days, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down by the Federal Government, terminal operators and shipping companies in Lagos ports are yet to comply with the directives.
ANLCA President made this known in a chat with reporters in Lagos, yesterday, while highlighting issues, as well as challenges facing Freight Forwarders and importers in the country.
Mr Nwabunike, who is one of the major stakeholders in the maritime industry, expressed great displeasure on non-compliance by concessionaires deliberately ignoring the directives of NPA on this important issue affecting the port industry and the nation’s economy at this critical period of COVID-19 pandemic.
He called on the leadership of NPA under Hadiza Bala Usman, as the Managing Director, to invoke its powers as the regulatory authority in the port industry to ensure that concessionaires respond accordingly.
His words, “In fact, before the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria, I rated the Managing Director of NPA very high because of her outstanding performance. But the pandemic came and exposed the weakness of NPA in ensuring that its directives are strictly adhered to by concessionaires operating in the nation’s ports.”
He went on, “They licensed these concessionaires to manage the ports and must ensure that directives coming from government are given due compliance at all times.
“For instance, at present, we have over 1,000 receipts from Freight Forwarders, our members who paid the storage and demurrage charges even after such charges had been waived by NPA, which is the regulatory Agency. For businesses to continue in the ports, we told our members to pay the charges and wait for refund, but till now, nothing has happened.”
He emphasised, “The Port industry is very important to economic growth and development. Therefore, NPA should take charge of its functions in the ports to make sure the shipping companies are not doing otherwise”.
The ANLCA President frowned, “We can react negatively if this anomaly is not corrected soon. As a responsible Association, we are supporting government’s effort in building the economy, so we don’t want social disorder in the port industry. That is why, we are calling on NPA to do the needful”.
In the same vein, he stressed that the idea by NPA to drive investments to new deep seaports in the country is a welcome development, but he advised the Authority to first look inward and fully develop the existing deep seaports on ground.
He informed, “For deep seaports to be functional and meet the intended purpose, there must be train stations at appropriate locations.