…Says it’s a welcomed development
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has commended the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) for directing the shipping companies operating in Nigeria to suspend demurrage charges during the period of Covid-19 lockdown.
Recall that the Management of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council had in a statement on Friday directed the shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of Covid-19 lockdown with effect from 30th March, 2020 adding that this development strictly applied to cargo that was discharged at the terminals from the 30th of March, 2020.
Speaking in a telephone interview with our correspondent on the development, the National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche described it as a welcomed development stating that it gladdened the heart of the freight forwarders to receive such news from the Shippers’ Council.
Uche added that “we are not surprised; it is a development that is highly welcomed by both practitioners and shippers.”
While noting that the industry was in an uncommon situation that called for relaxation of some of the subsisting laws and processes so as to help the industry not to grind to a halt, the NAGAFF President submitted that the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, from the day the Presidential order was given on 29th of March, 2020, had always been on his toes to provide an environment that would give freight forwarders the opportunity to meet up with what was expected of them in respect of achieving the Presidential directive.
“So, it is not a mean task for them to have secured the demurrage waiver from 30th March to date but that covers goods that came in within this very period of lockdown. So, we are happy, we know that the waiver will surely be granted because I am aware that it wasn’t a day job, it took them time. That they have been going all hog trying to meet with the shipping companies, negotiating with them, having dialogue, applying due process. So, it is a welcomed development, we are happy with that. We also encourage those whose cargoes are at the ports to make haste to pick them up within the said period”, he said.
Speaking on whether the directive would not suffer the same fate as the initial directive of the Nigerian Ports Authority to the terminal operators, he said that they were sure that the demurrage waiver would be applied by the shipping companies because of the fact that Shippers’ Council management was not gamblers as they were grounded in the industry and knew the best approach to apply.
He continued, “In a situation such as we have found ourselves in the maritime industry, it does not make any sense for any agency to just wake up overnight and give directive without interfacing with the relevant stakeholder that is involved especially the shipping companies and service providers. When NPA gave its directive, it was discovered that there was no proper arrangement put in place. That was why the terminal operators were opposed to granting that storage waiver that at a stage, NPA had to issue letters authenticating their initial verbal directive. But at the end, the directive was still being flouted by the terminal operators up till today.
“But the arrangement of the Shippers’ Council, we have more faith. Whatever you see coming out from the mouth of the ES of the Shippers’ Council and his management, it is a directive that should be relied upon because they normally apply due process. They will meet with the shipping companies and of course, I am aware that they have been going round the shipping companies, they have understood that the work going on at the shipping companies level was skeletal whereby the workforce was reduced so that most of the processes that should have taken them a day now take them up to three to four days to complete.
“We are aware that Shippers’ Council has been making consultations with the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) together with the shipping companies. So, we know that a lot of robbing of minds, dialogues and consultations has been going on. So, it won’t go like the one of NPA.”
While acknowledging that freight forwarders were impatient, he observed that it behooved on them as leaders to advise their members adding that they had made arrangements to guide them not to abuse the privilege.
“It is a mere privilege not anybody’s right. If not for the proactiveness of the ES of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council, this wouldn’t have come. Shipping companies are not Father Christmas. Left for them, they will not waive even a dime but for the fact that this man, ES of Shippers’ Council took time with his management, people shouldn’t abuse that. We will still talk to them as already planned, both the shippers and the freight forwarders, let us do what is required of us. We shouldn’t go there even when there is any problem that is not being honoured, let them just quietly get across to us and we will talk to the Shippers’ Council to intervene but I don’t think that it will get to that level because already, there is an arrangement put together”, he explained.
While thanking the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for collaborating to make this a reality, he opined that Shippers’ Council was already playing the economic regulator role that was required of it adding that “we feel that they will continue with this same particular rate with which they are moving.”
Photo: National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche.
Send your news, press releases/articles to email@example.com. Also, follow us on Twitter @ptreporters and on Facebook on facebook.com/primetimereporters or call the editor on 07030661526, 08053908817.