NAGAFF threatens boycott of Shipping Coys demanding congestion surcharges

Members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), have said they are battle-ready for all multinational shipping lines who have issued notices to introduce congestion surcharges of $400 and $425 per container at the nation’s ports.

President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche, Wednesday while condemning the action of the two shipping companies, CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company said members had been put on alert to shun the Bill of Lading of the multinational shipping companies involved should they insist on collecting ports congestion surcharges.
“We shall put a caveat on the Bill of Lading of any shipping company collecting congestion surcharge. We will ask our members not to accept Bill of Lading in respect of the two shipping companies”, he told SHIPPING DAY.
CMA CGM had given a notice to collect $400 per container while Mediterranean Shipping Company which covers goods from Asia said it will be collecting $425 per container as congestion surcharges with effect from October 15 and 18 respectively.
The reason given by the shipping companies was to cover for the congestion and delay being suffered at the ports.
But Uche said the plan of the shipping companies was simply to provoke the government and indeed the Nigerian shippers and see what they can do.
He said that it was a challenge for the federal government to take up the issue and stop them from enforcing the planned surcharge.
Describing the congestion surcharge as laughable, Uche said the shipping companies have been taking Nigeria for granted by acting with impunity.
He argued that there is no part of the world that a shipping line will just wake up and slam shippers with surcharge.
Uche said the current action of the shipping companies was among the reasons why freight forwarders have been in the forefront to call for inclusion in the Committee that is reviewing the port congestion agreement.
He opined that it was important to know the details of the agreement reached between ports service providers and the NPA to be able to challenge anything that is illegal by any of the parties.
The NAGAFF President commended the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) for acting on time by describing the congestion surcharges as illegal.
He said that left alone, the shipping lines was ready to impose all types of charges against shippers.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello had in a chat granted one of the national dailies described the container surcharge as illegal.
Bello was quoted saying, “There is no such charge. There is nothing like that and if there is an intention to do that, it is null and void. Until they have negotiated with the Nigerian Shippers Council and until Nigerian Shippers Council gives them the go ahead it will be illegal.”
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had also condemned CMA CGM, over the ports congestion surcharge.
The authority said it will sanction, CMA CGM as well as any other shipping line that will be collecting such surcharge from shippers.
The shipping line had few days ago said it will from October 15 begin to collect a $400 congestion surcharge for containers coming to Tin Can Island and Apapa from any part of the world.
The shipping line explained that this was as a result of increased congestion in Lagos ports which has in turn raised its operating costs as well as causing severe service disruption for several weeks.
The statement had read, “CMA CGM will therefore implement the following Emergency Congestion Surcharge on Lagos import cargo, effective October 15th, 2018 (B/ L date) for FMC trades.”
How, reacting to the statement from the shipping line, the Acting General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Isa Suwaid said the NPA will not accept such surcharges.
Suwaid explained that this was because the shipping line and some others have not complied with the directive from the NPA to provide holding bays to be able to handle any volume of containers.
Suwaid argued that failure to provide holding bays by some shipping lines was responsible for the increased congestion in the Lagos ports.
He said that the NPA would review the level of compliance by the shipping companies in the area of provision of holding bays by sending its officials for regular checks on the shipping companies.
According to him, any shipping company or terminal operators that failed to comply would be sanctioned.