ANLCA writes Osinbajo, seek total lockdown of nation’s seaports over Covid-19

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The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called for the enforcement of Force Majeure as well as total lockdown of the Nigerian seaports as already done at the airports and land border stations to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus and to protect the Nigerian workforce operating at the seaports.

The National President of ANLCA, Chief Iju Tony Nwabunike who made this call in an open letter to the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Friday 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 at all levels.

Nwabunike said, “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 its 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 attained an unbearable proportion due to the lock down.

“As you already know sir, it is difficult, if not totally impossible to process customs documentation and take delivery of cargoes in our ports during this period. Even when attempt is 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.

“We hereby call for the enforcement of Force Majeure and total lockdown of our seaports as already done in the airports and border stations to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus and to protect the Nigerian workforce operating in our ports.”

He continued, “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.

“Your Excellency sir, we are appealing that you use your good office to ensure that this is implemented immediately.

“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.

“This open letter has become necessary in order to create a conflict free and friendly business operating environment, even after this national pandemic is over.”

He however observed that the association was happy with measures already taken by the federal government of Nigeria to fight the Coronavirus scourge in a bid to stop the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

According to him,” We at ANLCA are in full support and we have since last week shutdown our National Secretariat and advise our numerous members across the country to practice the self-distancing and 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.

“However, due to fear of losing money and investments through demurrage and other charges as may be effected by the shipping companies and terminal operators operating in the ports, hence our fears heightened.”

The National President therefore assured the federal government of Nigeria that ANLCA and all its members across the country would support the government and all its agencies in the ports to make sure government achieve its objectives in making sure activities in the ports return to normal, especially in collecting revenue due to the government.

Photo: ANLCA National President, Chief Iju Tony Nwabunike.

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