Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has said that shippers lost more than N5 trillion in one month due to the Coronavirus pandemic, that forced businesses, banks, offices and factories to shut down.
The shippers are also seeking 35 per cent reduction of shipping charges during the nationwide lock down.
Its President, Rev Jonathan Nicol, said in a statement that shippers should not be sanctioned for a situation they did not cause as the lockdown compelled them to carry out their transactions across the ports.
He however commended the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for securing demurrage waiver to cover the period of the COVID-19 lockdown
He added: “The lock down made it impossible to pay Customs duties as expected. Banks, factories and offices were shutdown as well. So, there were gross limitation on the shippers to do the needful. It is a national lockdown that no one can violate, which is still prevailing.”
“The period of demurrages has no distinction, rather the government gave the incentive as palliative for shutting down our businesses for one month. But we lost more than N5 trillion during that one month.”
He therefore, appealed to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to prevail on the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and NAFDAC to emulate the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) by waiving their handling charges on cargo for the period of battling the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic virus.
He hinted that the Association would be glad if banks could open for, at least, twice in a week to discharge shipping documents and confirmation of duty and terminal payments.
“There are levels of actions which smaller branches of bank can discharge. We also call on shipping staff of various enterprises to pick shipping documents and conduct duty and terminal fee payments to compliment the efforts of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in cargo clearance, especially for industries. “Much as we are concerned about the current precautionary health conditions, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council representing Government directives would need your support in this respect. In addition, SALS would like the 35 per cent reduction from the shipping companies charges as speculated some time ago by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council on a Memorandum of Agreement,” he said.
According to him, shippers hope to work especially now under very life threatening conditions, a sacrifice that should be appreciated by Government. He urged stakeholders to contribute towards the welfare of nation’s economy.