The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has directed the shipping companies operating in Nigeria to suspend demurrage charges during the period of Covid-19 lockdown.
According to a statement by the Management of the Council on Friday, the directive takes 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.
The statement noted that in line with the presidential directive that port operations were essential services; Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) had been monitoring activities to ensure that seaports run efficiently and smoothly within the present circumstances, and in compliance with the existing health and safety guidelines for the prevention and containment of the spread of COVID-19.
It added that during the daily monitoring exercise, it was observed that some shippers, through no fault of theirs, were unable to take delivery of their cargo because of lack of public transportation, inadequate banking services and limited service providers due to reduced workforce among other factors.
“Based on the forgoing, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown with effect from 30th March 2020. This strictly applies to cargo that was discharged at the terminals from the 30th of March, 2020
“To this end, demurrage charges during this period should be refunded to the consignee or his authorized agent. Suspension of demurrage during this period is an incentive for owners of cargo to accelerate the process of taking delivery of their cargo. This suspension of demurrage charges is not an excuse to delay or abandon cargo at the ports. Erring shippers will be sanctioned in addition to having to pay the demurrage due on their cargoes”, it said.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had earlier in March 2020 directed the terminal operators to suspend storage charges otherwise known as demurrage for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 23rd of March, 2020.
Recall also that President Muhammadu Buhari in a nationwide broadcast on the 29th March, 2020 had ordered a total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT Abuja in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, a development which had made it impossible for many businesses including banks and transporters to operate thus affecting the smooth and efficient cargo clearance at the Lagos seaport hence the need for this directive.
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