Importers groan over illegal surcharge at seaports

Liners lose N166.25bn weekly

In less than one year, another illegal surcharge has been rolled out on Nigerian cargoes originating from Europe and Mediterranean region. One of the liners, CMA CGM, said it would commence charging Freight All Kinds (FAK) rates as from April 1, 2021 until further notice. New Telegraph gathered that this would be the third time the liner would introduce Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on Nigerian import and export cargoes within one year. Findings revealed that the company had slammed surcharges on cargoes from Indian subcontinent & Middle East Gulf to Lagos ports under the guise of providing its customers with reliable and efficient services.

Before the latest charges, the liners had imposed PSS against Nigerian cargoes under the guise of gridlock and congestion on port roads, thereby collecting €800 and €1,350 per 20 feet and 40 feet container respectively on FAK since March 1, 2020 on all goods imported from Hamburg to Tincan Port, while Antwerp and Rotterdam to Tincan Port cost €725 euro and €1,050 per 20 and 40 feet container respectively.

Importers said that they had been paying over N150 billion unfair multiple surcharges introduced by foreign shipping companies on Nigeria-bound cargoes. However, the liners’ excuse was that they have been losing between $300 million and N166.25 billion ($350 million) weekly since the outbreak of COVID-19. But barely three weeks after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) partially freed the roads from traffic gridlock, CMA CGM said that from April 1, 2021, Nigerian cargoes from Tilbury to Tincan/ Apapa would attract €1,700 and €2,320 euro per 20 feet and 40 feet container respectively, while cargoes from the same port to Tema Port in Ghana would attract €1,010 and €1,620. In June, 2020, Asian importers were forced to pay extra charges on dry, reefer, Out of Gauge (OOG) break bulk cargoes coming to Lagos and Tincan Island port.

It was gathered that while shipping lines such as CMA CGM, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and COSCO Shipping were waiving detention and demurrage fees in some ports, they imposed same on Lagos, Tincan, Cotonou, Lome, Tema and other West African ports. It would be recalled that the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, had complained that the surcharges imposed on Nigerian-bound cargoes by the shipping lines were responsible for the high freight rate in Nigerian seaports, saying it was illegal as the shipping lines failed to consult the council before imposing surcharges on importers.

He listed the abnormal charges the liners always imposed to include bunker adjustment, currency adjustment, security, which is called war risk. Others are extra risk insurance surcharge, freight rates surcharge and port operations recovery surcharge. The executive secretary described the charges as economic sabotage, saying the council was moving vehemently against the action of the shipping firm.




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