The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has lamented that untrue information from several informants at the nation’s seaports have seen Nigerian importers and their freight agents paying huge demurrage charges due to longer time required for cargo evacuation.
NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team made this known in a press conference which held in Lagos on Thursday, as the group posited that the development threatens the corporate existence of the freight forwarders.
Speaking at the briefing, the National Coordinator of the Compliance Team, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko stated that the body has declared war against those informants specialized in giving false information about consignments already cleared at the ports to the authorities thereby delaying quick exit of the consignments.
He explained that the informants specialize in picking up container numbers even before one captures that container and they send it to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) headquarters in Abuja through the PSO to the Comptroller General of Customs who subsequently directs the Area Controller of the concerned Command or the Federal Operations Unit in which the command is domiciled to reposition the container for another round of examination.
His words: “You have an information, why can’t you go directly to the Area Controller of that command? Send that information to him, I believe that the Area Controller is trusted by the people at Abuja, that is why they posted him to that command. That Area Controller has every right to use his officers and machineries to reposition that container for examination and find out whether that information is true or not. If it is true, the one that is supposed to be seized, will be seized and the one that is supposed to be raised demand notice on, you go ahead and do that.”
“Most times after the delay, they re-examine the container and see that the person declared correctly, the Area Controller of the command would still have no power to ask the man to go. He will have to go through the Controller FOU and the FOU will insist on coming over to examine the container and after the examination, they will have to take the report back to Abuja for the headquarters to decide whether to allow the container to go or not. By that time, two or three weeks is gone and demurrage both from shipping and terminal operators have accumulated.”
“Who is to pay all these demurrage that have accumulated? What we are saying is that if there’s any information regarding any container, let the Area Controller in charge of that command be given that information. That is what we are appealing so that decision will be taken so fast. The cargo will leave the port in good time instead of us paying demurrage.”
He also expressed worry that the informants giving the information have nothing to lose when the report turn out to be false; whereas the freight agent and the importer would have to pay the demurrage as the terminal operator and shipping company would accept no other explanation.
The National Coordinator who disclosed that the Team had declared war against informants revealed that the team had discovered one of the culprits (name withheld) who said was one of the leaders of the informants.
“He has boys everywhere, we have communicated with him and he denied the allegation but we have concrete evidence that he is one of the leaders of the informants and his activities have crippled many people. In fact, he made a lot of people go bankrupt because most of importers and freight forwarders. Some people borrow money from the bank to do this business. Information at my disposal reveal that some of his victims have even ended up in prison,” Tanko said.