- Govt revenue threatened as liners reschedule ships
- Maritime Workers halt APMT Apapa operations for 2 days
Fourteen days after the impromptu deactivation of Five Star Logistics Terminal on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) portal, Nigerian shippers are set to suffer over N2billion charges as demmurage to shipping lines.
Meanwhile, congestion is also brewing at the port facility in Tin Can Island with two vessels successfully discharging vehicles and containerized cargoes despite the terminal’s inability to access Customs portal.
At Apapa Port, the nation’s biggest seaport terminal operator, AP Moller Terminal has been grounded for two days as Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) protests poor salaries, bad welfare, and maltreatment by management of the terminal.
Experts who discussed with the News Diet on the situation at Tin Can have estimated the demurrage losses for Nigerian importers to exceed N2billion, while Customs revenue is also being threatened as some shipping lines have begun rescheduling their vessels to avoid the port.
Despite projected losses for the seaport terminal to be in several millions of naira, the company has apologized to its clients while expressing willingness to waive storage charges for the period.
When our correspondent visited the terminal today, a source at the facility confirmed that the company’s top management are still in Abuja as they have been engaging Customs leadership at the headquarters since last week.
Meanwhile, the President of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite has asked Customs to explain what platform they will utilize in collecting unpaid duties from a terminal operator.
Otunba, who was speaking during an exclusive chat with our correspondent, argued that there is no platform for a terminal operator to pay Customs duties that should have been paid by consignees.
According to the APFFLON boss, NCS is being inconsiderate by persisting with the terminal’s portal closure as Nigerian shippers are set to suffer colossal charges that would transmute into inflation in the country.
His words: “At this point, the situation is bad for everyone. The shipping lines will suffer from congestion and delays, the terminal operator is bound to lose millions, and Nigerian Shippers will bear the brunt of the economic hardship. The terminal operator will have to waive the storage charges because they are responsible for this; but shipping lines will not waive demurrage. This means shippers will pay the demmurage and pass the additional cost to Nigerians by increasing the prices of the imported goods.”
Ogunojemite also expressed worry that fast track goods and reefer cargoes are still made to suffer from Customs decision, describing the move as a huge setback for the nation.
He opined that Customs doesn’t seem to care because it would recoup its revenue whenever the portal is opened, but warned that the congestion at the ports and economic impact of the decision should make the Service reconsider its stance.
While touring the port terminal earlier today, our correspondent spotted two brand new vehicles that arrived recently with an estimated revenue of N2.5billion for Customs and several other cars were also seen at the facility because a ship had already discharged thousands of cars.
“We have had 2 vessels arrive so we are talking of about N5billion with N2.5billion per vessel.”
“On containers, the revenue should be around N1.2billion. Demurrage losses can be estimated to be over N2billion”
“Five Star will lose a lot of money that should have been collected as storage charges. However, they are expected to give waivers,” a source who preferred anonymity said.
With congestion looming at Tin Can Island Port, many vessels are changing their scheduled plan because of this issue and the revenue of Customs and government is threatened.
Since vessels wouldn’t want to call at the ports to wait endlessly when the place is filled up, there are concerns that neighbouring seaports and land border smuggling may be seen as the next alternative for Nigerian shippers.
Nevertheless, several companies are being affected by the fast track cargoes which are usually production materials for manufacturers.
At Apapa Port, the leadership of MWUN has stated that there is no going back in its demand for fair treatment and salary upgrade for its members from the management of AP Moller Terminal.
Recall that the union took the industry by surprise yesterday when it shut down operations at the terminal following refusal of the concessionaires to yield to workers’ demand despite meeting with them seven times.
Today, more prominent leaders of MWUN were seen at APMT Apapa protesting with the rank and file; meanwhile, the President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju has also instructed members of the Dockworkers Branch to continue the warning strike at the terminal.
The union boss also added that all district executives in Lagos seaports must show solidarity with the district in its fight for the well-being of workers at APMT.
According to Adeyanju, the union will not tolerate the ill-treatment of workers by the port concessionaire noting that the MWUN has been fair enough to follow the rules of engagement before the industrial action.
The Dockworkers Branch President, MWUN, Comrade Ibrahim Tajudeen Ohize at the entry gate of APMT, on Thursday morning as at 7.30 am local time, reiterated the Union’s commitment to workers welfare.
Ohize stated that the industrial action will continue until management of APMT respond positively to their demand.
Although Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has started mediating between maritime workers’ and APMT management, the Apapa port crisis remains ongoing as at the time of filing this report.