Agents’ strike: Nigeria loses N50bn in 10 days

NPA seaport

…As Shippers’ Council floors operators in court


Our Reporter: UCHE USIM

Nigeria may have losses an stimated N50 billion over the past ten days of strike by freight forwarders that grounded the APM Terminal and Apapa port.

An assessment of the loses shows that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was the highest casualty having lost an average of N1 billion daily.

Other losers are shipping lines, manufacturing companies, haulage/trucking firms, terminal operators, Nigerian Ports Authority, importers, clearing agents and other agencies of government. Their losses are estimated to be about N4billion daily.

Cumulatively, the nation loses N5billion and with 10 days gone, about N50 billion has also gone down the drain.

The strike, which started on Monday November 3, 2014, stemed from alleged predatory charges slammed on freight fowarders by APMT, which forced them to downtool.

Some agents who confided in Daily Sun said the strike may extend to other seaports nationwide to make it more effective. They lamented the astronomical cost of cargo clearance in Nigeria, describing it as the highest in West Africa.

Meanwhile the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday expressly struck out a suit brought by the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) against the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) for non-adherence with court rules.

STOAN had secured a court injunction insulating it from obeying the directives of NSC to reverse it charges to May 1, 2009 rates.

At the hearing yesterday, the Presiding Judge, Ibrahim Buba, said that the parties which came by way of originating summons did not tell the court the issues (question) for determination.

Speaking with journalists after the ruling, Counsel to‎ the Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Mr. Emeka Akabogu noted, that with the STOAN case thrown out, the Shippers’ Council can now commence implementation of its directive immediately.

“What this means is that as at today, with the matter being struck out, the injunction which was obtained by the STOAN is immediately vacated by virtue of the matter being struck out on technical grounds”

“Even if they want to re-file they can, but the injunction is no longer valid and the shippers’ council is able to implement the charges immediately”, he explained.

Recall that the NSC on October 29 published an advertisement announcing the reversal of storage charges at the ports to the May 1, 2009 rates.

The directive was to take effect from November 3 but STOAN obtained a court injunction on October 31 restraining the NSC from enforcing the directives.

Aside slash in charges, the NSC ordered an increase in the storage period at the ports from three days to seven days.

It equally directed shipping companies to reduce their charges from N26,500 to N23,850 (20 ft container) and from N48,000 to N40,000 (40 ft container).

Source : SunOnline

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