By Tanko Mohammed
Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, gave the directive in Lagos on Friday.
According to him, the suspension strictly applies to cargo that is discharged at the terminals as from March 30.
“In line with the presidential directive that port operations are essential services, NSC has been monitoring activities to ensure that seaports run efficiently and smoothly within the present circumstances.
“It also ensures that the port runs 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, NSC has directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown which is with effect from March 30,”he said.
He added that demurrage charges during this period should be refunded to the consignee or his authorised agent.
Bello pointed out that the suspension of demurrage during this period was 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,” he said.