The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has petitioned the Federal Government to enforce “Force Majeure” and total lockdown of the nation’s seaports as already done in the airports and border stations to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
In an open letter to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and signed by ANLCA National President, Iju Tony Nwabunike, made available to Daily Sun, the Association said it has become pertinent to lockdown the seaports to protect Nigerians operating in ports.
Nwabunike said: “Before the COVID- 19 pandemic subsides for normal businesses in the seaports, airports and border stations to take it full swing, imported and exported items might have been trapped in the various gateways to the nation. As such demurrages and rent payable to shipping companies, concessionaires/terminal operators will have attend an unbearable proportion due to the lock down.
“It is difficult, if not totally impossible to process customs documentation and take delivery of cargoes in our ports during this period. Even when attempts is made, it becomes difficult because state governments have closed interstate borders, markets are locked and movement of certain vehicles restricted.”
According to him, due to fear of losing money and investments through demurrage and other charges as may be effected by the shipping companies and terminal operators operating in the ports, hence “our fears heightened.” He therefore appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on shipping companies, terminal operators and other agencies in the ports to be prepared to waive all charges, taxes and fees during this period of national compromise at all levels.
“Consequently we seek for all demurrage, rents, penalties among others emanating from inability to clear cargoes as at when due from the ports at this period to be waived effective from the first week of March, 2020 when the first case of the deadly virus was detected in Nigeria through an Italian citizen.
“We are appealing that you use your good offices to ensure that this is implemented immediately. Please note that we are dealing with concessionaires, shipping companies and others who are mainly foreigners, hence government’s intervention and enforcement have become necessary,” he stated in the letter.