By Innocent Orok
Barely two weeks after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) issued a directive to all Terminal Operators to waive terminal storage charges to importers effective from March 23rd , 2020, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) today issued a directive to all Shipping Companies to suspend their demurrage charges to importers effective March 30th, 2020.
It could be recalled that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has issued mandated letters to Terminal Operators for waiver of Rent Charges for initial period of 21 days , effective 23rd, March, 2020.
The letter was dated 2nd April, 2020 and titled RELIEF MEASURES TO PORT USERS DUE TO OUTBREAK OF COVID19.
It reads in part ” Following the scourge of Covid19 pandemic and inline with the global trend of providing reliefs to businesses for the benefits of the general populace, you are hereby directed to suspend Rent Charges on Consignments with effect from Monday, 23rd March, 2020 for an initial period of 21 days”.
Today, the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in a statement issued a directive to Shipping Companies to suspend all demurrages to importers during the period of the Covid19 pandemic, effective from March, 30th, 2020.
The Statement reads ” In line with the presidential directive that port operations are essential services, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has been monitoring activities to ensure that seaports run efficiently and smoothly within the present circumstances, and in compliance with the existing health and safety guidelines for the prevention and containment of the spread of COVID-19
“During the daily monitoring exercise, it was observed that some shippers, through no fault of theirs, are unable to take delivery of their cargo because of lack of public transportation, inadequate banking services and limited service providers due to reduced workforce, etc.
” Based on the forgoing, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown with effect from 30th March 2020. This strictly applies to cargo that was discharged at the terminals from the 30th of March 2020
“To this end, demurrage charges during this period should be refunded to the consignee or his authorized agent. Suspension of demurrage during this period is an incentive for owners of cargo to accelerate the process of taking delivery of their cargo. This suspension of demurrage charges is not an excuse to delay or abandon cargo at the ports. Erring shippers will be sanctioned in addition to having to pay the demurrage due on their cargoes.”