N557,000 Demurrage: Freight forwarders shun Japanese shipping line, Ocean Network Express


Following its refusal to release multi-billion naira shipments of an importer in Nigeria for failure to pay Five Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand Naira (N557,000) demurrage charges on a container used for previous shipment which return to the shipping line was delayed for 38 days, freight forwarders operating at Apapa port, have urged Nigerian importers not to patronize the services of a Japanese shipping line, Ocean Network Express (ONE) for shipments to Nigeria.

The freight forwarders also asked their trade partners from Japan, Singapore, China and other countries to shun the shipping line as a result of what they termed “poor customer care.”

Investigation revealed that the container whose return to the shipping line was delayed for 38 days was said to have been detained by the Police after the truck conveying it was involved in a ghastly motor accident.

It was gathered that at the return of the said container, the shipping line had gone ahead to slam the whopping N557,000 as demurrage charge on the freight forwarder despite evidences of the accident availed the shipping line and pleas to jettison charges incurred due to the accident which according to them left many badly injured.

The shipping company was said to have been briefed about the accident and was carried along with the development while assuring the freight forwarders of its understanding.

They were however shocked to see the shipping line refusing to release the subsequent shipments on account of the failure of the importer to pay the N557,000 demurrage on the container used for the previous shipment despite assurances from the company.

In a petition to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) headquarters, the freight forwarders described the action of the Ocean Network Express as “inhuman” while accusing it of being too business-like and caring less of the lives of Nigerians injured in the accident.

The petition reads, “We wish to express our regret over the inhuman action and decision making of the management of Ocean Network Express shipping company.

“We took delivery of this above mentioned shipping company container on the 18th of June, 2019. Unfortunately, the truck conveying the container to our warehouse had a fatal accident and crashed into a commuter bus injuring the passengers sitting at the rear of the bus. The truck, truck owner and the driver were detained by the Nigeria police.

“After much trouble with settlement of the damages and issues uprising, the container was now returned on the 26th July, 2019. During these times, we came to report the accident to ONE SHIPPING Company with pictures of the accident and the Police report. We were told to do our best to resolve the issues and try everything possible to return the empty box, then we can come back to discuss with them on the outstanding invoice that may have accumulated.

“Now, we went to the shipping company to release another shipment and we were told we have an outstanding invoice of about ₦557,077.50 caused by those delays in returning the container that was involved in the accident.

“All efforts to liase with the management team were all rebuffed. Even one of the Heads of Operation, Mr. MAX had the effrontery to say and I quote “I don’t care if the container killed everybody in the bus, all he knows is that we must pay before anything can be discussing about releasing our new shipment.”

“All efforts to reach to a higher authority in the shipping company were all kicked out. They have no phone numbers for complaints, no company email address to report any incident. The whole shipping company mode of operation is questionable.

“We appeal you look into this matter and take drastic action immediately against this fraudulent act by this shipping company. We have attached copies of the accident photos, the police reports and the questionable outstanding invoices.”

Confirming the development, the Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Apapa chapter, Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoegbo said freight forwarders were pained that Ocean Network Express shipping company lacks good customer care and was not interested in building business relationship with Nigerian importers.

He added that he supported the call for Nigerian importers and their trade partners from Asia and across the globe to stop using the services of the shipping line to bring goods to Nigeria.

Attempt to get the official reaction of the Ocean Network Express Management was not successful as the security agents at the gate told our correspondent that no visitor is allowed into the premises during break period.

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