The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has threatened to sanction CMA CGM, a major shipping line, over alleged unilateral imposition of $400 on shipments to two ports of Lagos, and other international shipping line that may introduce illegal charges at ports.

The management of the NPA and leadership of association of clearing agents in separate statements condemned the $400 congestion surcharge the international shipping line imposed on every container coming to TinCan Island and Apapa ports.

The shipping line had in an electronic mail sent to importers and clearing agents at the weekend, indicated that effective October l5 this year, cargoes from any part of the world on (EMA CGM ships will attract extra “USU 400 / EUR 850 per 20′ Dry and Reefer and USD 400 / EUR 350 per 40′ Dry and Reefer”.

It hinged the basis of the new charge on what it termed disruption of its activities based on congestion in the two Lagos ports.

The company stated in the email: “Port congestion at Lagos ports, Nigeria, is currently increasing our operational costs and generating severe service disruption for several weeks.

“CMA CGM will therefore implement the following Emergency Congestion Surcharge on Lagos import cargo, effective October 15th, 2018 (B/ L date) for FMC trades”, it added.

In addition, the shipping company also indicated that the surcharge would be payable on categories of cargoes, including dry and break bulk.

Reacting to the unilateral charge, NPA, through a press statement by the Acting General-Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Isa Suwaid, maintained that the new charges cannot stand following the authority’s checks, which showed that some of the shipping companies had failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays as they have either failed to utilise their holding bays at all or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with.

The authority noted that some of the companies had also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported, thereby making the country a dumping ground for empties.

The NPA stated: “These conducts have contributed to the persistent congestion around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, spreading to other parts of the Lagos metropolis where truck drivers with no immediate business at the ports now park their trucks.

“The authority will review the level of compliance to its directives and determine further actions in addition to this, the NPA will henceforth embark on a regular compliance check of the operations of holding bays by shipping companies and terminal operators and defaulters will be sanctioned”, the authority added.

In a related development, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) described the charge as an affront on the sensibility of entire Nigerians.

In a statement issued by the Deputy National President of the association, Mr Kayode Farinto, the association stressed the arbitrary charge was a breach of affreightment contract which had been sealed before the cargos were shipped through the shipping line.

While vowing to resist the charge and threatening to issue global trade alert against the shipping company, the association urged Nigerians importers to boycott the international shipping company if it moved to implement the arbitrary port charge.

Businessand maritimewestafrica