Shipping Firm Stops Surcharge on Nigerian Cargoes
The international shipping community is facing a major labour crisis, with sailors stranded on ships or at home because of visa and flight restrictions, maritime groups said.
With crew changes down by 75 per cent, a humanitarian crisis is also developing, with sailors suffering mental health problems, fatigue and accidents from being trapped for months at a time on ships.
AN international shipping firm, Maersk Line, has halted the Peak Season Surcharge it earlier imposed on Nigerian-bound cargoes from September 1, 2020.
Managing Director, Maersk Nigeria, Lara Lana, in a letter to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), said he has instructed the Commercial Department to stop applying the surcharge from September 1st, 2020.
This is in response to protests by the Shippers’ Council, which recently convened a meeting of the organized private sector (OPS), to deliberate on the astronomical peak season surcharge imposed by shipping lines calling in Nigeria.
The Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC), had also backed the Shippers’ Council and called for immediate suspension of the peak season surcharge calling it a violation of previous UASC/European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) agreement.
The UASC/European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) agreement requires mutual and reasonable notification of UASC and PMAWCA by individual shipping companies before any such imposition of the new tariff, surcharges, or increase in transport cost.
Lana stated: “Our principals in our Head Office have informed us of your letter with subject reference increase in peak season surcharge,” adding that “we would like to thank you for the supporting document you shared shedding light on the meeting between the ECSA and UASC.”
Nigerian importers had earlier expressed displeasure over the huge surcharge imposed on them by the international shipping firms on cargoes imported from across the world.
They noted that surcharge is adding to the high cost of doing business in Nigerian ports, coupled with the challenges of infrastructure deficiency and the cumbersome shipping process at the nation’s gateway.
Critical industries in Nigeria are already groaning under the new charges, saying the high prices are dipping into their profits, which had already been crashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.