…Insist on pegging charges
The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) has called for an end to excessive charges on groupage containers by shipping line agencies operating in Nigeria.
Groupage container is a practice where two or three consignees or more put in their cargo into a 1x20ft or 1x40ft container as Full Container Load. Freight charges are paid fully from Port of Loading to Port of Destination in foreign currency. No hidden charges are transferred to the Consignee whether or not there is trans-shipment from another port during transit.
On arrival, the Shipping Line Agents notify the consignees who have the Original House Bill Ladings indicating their own cargo to come and pick up their cargo after unstuffing.
Speaking in a statement in Lagos on Saturday, the President, SALS, Rev. Jonathan Nicol noted that it had been confirmed that one aspect of ripping off shippers and importers in Nigeria was through groupage shipments adding that the shipping line agents in Nigeria were academical in handling of groupage containers.
Nicol pointed out that in some cases, the local receiving agency delays in receiving the containers for up to one or two months noting that after receiving the containers and unstuffing at their warehouse, the consignees were informed to come and pick their cargo. According to him, “Within this period, the local agent puts in a lot of charges against the consignees far and above the cost of the cargo. It is even cheaper to clear the container direct if all the consignees agree. The Master Bill Lading is normally consigned to the ship’s local agent while the House Bill Ladings shows owners of each cargo in the container. We have more groupage issues mainly from the Chinese Shipping Agencies handling groupage containers in Nigeria. No wonder the Nigerian Shippers’ Council recently waded into the shippers complaints after one and half years of economic torture from the same company.
“It is therefore necessary to peg charges on groupage containers in Nigeria. Most successful big importers today started with groupage shipments. Then, Nigerian Ports Authority had warehouses inside the ports and containers are moved direct from the ship or stacking areas to the warehouses for unstuffing. We really do not understand why it takes three months to move groupage containers from the ports for unstuffing and nobody pays the Importers for delays.
“There are no aspects of clearance of groupage containers to attract additional cost to be paid in foreign currency. It should stop. On storage charges, the bills must be commensurate with the number of days the cargo was stuffed in the warehouse and not the arrival date of the vessel. The consignee should not be subjected to excessive transfer charges from the designated port to the receiving warehouses.”
He further argued that the consignee should not be subjected to excessive transfer charges from the designated port to the receiving warehouses adding that all charges relating to the shipment of the cargo were paid upfront before shipment.
“It is like someone travelling to England via Lufthansa Airlines. All freight paid and passengers’ luggage marked London. The transshipment therefore is Frankfurt. Luggages meant for final destruction are loaded into the Aircraft for final destination. The owners of cargo not expected to pay additional cost for handling. It is the same thing with groupage cargo”, he added.
The SALS boss went on to suggest that in considering the difficulties in Nigeria clearing systems, simplified methods must be put in place to curtail excessive charges on shippers even as he contended that additional cost paid in foreign currency in Nigeria could be termed as capital flight.
He insisted that freight collect cargoes were normally paid in Nigerian currencies at the official bank rate if evidence was produced saying such cargo would not be released to the owner until the freight had been paid.
“Outside of that, it is a sin to rip off the shippers” he declared.
Photo: President, Shippers’ Association Lagos (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol.
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