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Shippers’ Council Okays 400 Percent Storage Charge Increment For Terminal Operators

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The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC has approved the downward review of the increment in storage charge by the terminal operators from 600 percent to 400 percent with effect from today October 25, 2023.

It will be recalled that the terminal operators under the aegis of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, announced a 600 percent increment in storage charge with effect from Monday October 16, 2023 citing inflationary pressure and naira devaluation as reasons for the increment a development which has sparked off agitations from the freight forwarders.

However, in a meeting conveyed on Tuesday by the Shippers’ Council at its headquarters in Apapa, Lagos comprising the freight forwarders and the terminal operators, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime disclosed that the Council having analysed the increments vis-a-vis the happenings in the country and the position of the terminal operators had invited them to make her position known to them.

Jime announced that the 600 percent increment from the third period as announced by the terminal operators, will now be reduced to 400 percent. He equally said that the three days free period hitherto in place had been increased to five days adding that the new cost regime would take effect from today.

He assured that the NSC would do everything to address the inefficiency that normally give rise to delays which results to demurrage.He informed that going forward, Shippers’ Council would extend the services of her Complaints Unit to the each terminal so that it would be easier for for freight forwarders to access them for quick resolution of complaints.

He however, expressed happiness over the meeting noting that the meeting availed him the opportunity to know many things which he was hitherto unaware of assuring that he will address all the issues raised at the meeting as time goes on. He described the meeting as starting a process assuring that he would soon call a meeting involving only the freight forwarders for a detailed discussion.

On their part, the freight forwarders congratulated the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for doing a good job even though some of them were not happy that the NSC approved the increment in the first place without engaging the stakeholders, a development the Executive Secretary of NSC alluded to. They appreciated the NSC for the downward review of the storage charge while insisting that 400 percent was still on the high side in view of the present state of the economy not minding the indices reeled out by the terminal operators as the reasons for the increment.

They appealed to them to go back to the drawing board to further review it downwards and then address the inefficiencies at the port including stoppages from all manner of agencies even at the point of the TDO, the Maritime Police would stop and the terminal operators would comply and so on.

Speaking on behalf of the terminal operators, the President of STOAN, Princess Dr. Vicky Haastrup appreciated the NSC for the meeting assuring that they would never collect or charge money for services not rendered.

The Managing Director of Ports and Terminals Multiservices Limited, PTML, Ascanio Russo particularly expressed some reservations about the five days free period extension explaining that it was like giving in to inefficiency. He argued that the three days free period as currently obtained would have been better as it would help everybody to work towards efficiency.

Calling off the meeting, the Shippers’ Council boss emphasized that they were sticking to the template they had worked out which brought about the 400 percent increment for the third period for 40 feet containers which would now come down to sixty thousand naira instead of the ninety thousand naira that it would have been, the same with the 20 feet containers. He informed that the Council would send out letters informing the stakeholders of the new development today.

On freight forwarders who had paid based on the 600 percent rate and the containers that had been in the ports for upwards of three weeks to one month, the Executive Secretary appealed to them to give him more time to digest on those two issues even as he insisted that would be difficult to ask the terminal operators to refund back monies collected so far. He however, promised to get back to them on these areas.

Reacting on the outcome of the meeting, the National Secretary of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria, AREFFN, Ichie Frank Obiekezie described the meeting as a good one which according to him was well attended by both the freight forwarders and the terminal operators

He said, “For now, there is no threat of closing down the port and the terminal operators will go back and implement the outcome of the meeting. Where there will be problem is if they begin to play around it, them other things may happen.”

On why the Shippers’ Council did not grant the provisional 90 days period before allowing the 400 percent increment as approved to come into effect, he said, “I don’t think it’s a policy issue, it’s just cost adjustment only that we considered the adjustment outrageous otherwise it’s not a new policy and the Shippers’ Council told us that they followed the process but you know, everybody is sensitive now, everybody is agitated. This one came in a manner that we felt it was so high. If they had done it discreetly and minimally, there wouldn’t have been any need for this complain.”