Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has threatened to take action against shipping companies, agencies, seaport terminal operators and off-dock terminals over arbitrary charges. The NSC Executive Secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, who stated this in a release issued by the Council’s Head of Public Relations, Mrs. Rakiya Zubairu, warned that the Council may be forced to ‘bite’, following unending stakeholders’ complaints against shipping companies/agencies, seaport terminal operators and off-dock terminals, especially over the arbitrary levy of container demurrage, storage and transfer charges on innocent consignees.
The Council’s management was particularly stirred by the fact that the charges were often for transportation of cargoes to off-dock terminals, unilaterally initiated by terminals without the consignees’ consent.
“It should be noted that based on international standard and recognised practice, freight paid at origin covers the movement of cargoes to the final port of delivery at destination. It follows, therefore, that cargoes earmarked for transfer to off-dock terminals at the request of the shipping company, seaport terminal operator or off-dock terminal, without the consent of the consignees or their authorised representatives, should not attract charge(s) against the consignees,” he said.
Bello pointed out that NSC has resolved henceforth, that all service providers must be guided; that import cargoes should be delivered to the nominated port of destination as stated in the Bill of Lading.
“And, where the operational convenience of the seaport terminals or some other prevailing circumstances necessitate the transfer of cargoes from the seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, the concerned consignees or their authorised agents must be notified in good time. Accordingly, therefore, they must not be charged the cost associated with such transfer, including barging costs.
“Storage and demurrage charges on cargoes earmarked for transfer from seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, without the consent of the consignees, should take effect only after arriving at the designated off-dock terminals. NSC considers this act as unethical and unwholesome,” he added. Consequently, he said all transfer charges collected from consignees of cargoes transferred from seaport terminals to off-dock terminals, from June 1 to date, must be refunded to the consignees immediately.