Shipping firms to slash overtime cargo charges by 90% - PUNCH
BY Anna Okon
Shipping firms and terminal operators have agreed to waive demurrage charges on overtime containers by up to 90 per cent.
Our correspondent gathered that this arrangement would be more beneficial to the operators than the 25 per cent statutory payment they would get after the containers had been auctioned.
The National Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, told our correspondent that in a recent meeting that freight forwarders had with terminal operators and shipping companies, the terminal operators and shipping companies had agreed that they would reduce demurrage charges on overtime containers by 90 per cent to give the owners the opportunity to pay and pick their containers.
Overtime container is the name given to containerised cargo that has stayed in the terminal without their owners showing up to claim them after a period of time stipulated by the Nigeria Customs Service.
When cargoes enter overtime status, the NCS takes possession of them.
Usually, the service moves the containers to Ikorodu where they are auctioned off.
Chukwu said the amount that comes to terminal operators after the auction was usually below what they would get if the containers were given back to the owners at a reduced demurrage rate.
He said, “The amount paid for containers at auction is usually very low, some as low as 10 per cent of the value of the cargo. You could have a cargo that is worth N30m being auctioned off for N300,000 and only 25 per cent of that N300,000 will go to the terminal operators, whereas they can easily tell the owner of the goods to pay N3m and take the goods.
“A container that carries three Sport Utility Vehicles valued at N100m can be auctioned for as low as N500, 000.
“But the terminal operators have agreed that instead of taking them to Ikorodu, the owners can pick them at reduced demurrage cost.”
In 2018, terminal operators and shipping companies complained that Customs were not paying them the 25 per cent charge on the value of auctioned containers.
Their spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, who stated this, said the terminal operators incurred huge operational cost while those containers were in their custody, especially during the examination of the containers by the Customs.
Responding, the NCS spokesman, Joseph Attah, had assured the operators that the reason they were not getting the 25 per cent was because overtime containers were not among the goods auctioned at the time.
The service has since been conducting regular auction of overtime containers.