The Vice-chairman of ENL Consortium Limited, Operators of Terminals C and D, Apapa Port, Princess Vicky Haastrup, has dismissed the agitation of freight forwarders over demurrage waivers as lacking in substance as such demand was misplaced.
Haastrup, who is also the Chairman of Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), disclosed that the Terminal operators actually complied with the directive of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to grant waivers but blamed clearing agents for not taking advantage of the storage free period granted by the Port authority.
Haastrup, who was speaking in Lagos against the complaints of Customs brokers over the controversial directive, claimed that many clearing agents who showed up enjoyed the free period.
She declared that most of the Customs brokers were ignorant about the nature of free rent period which NPA was talking about; hence some refused to take advantage of the demurrage grace period.
Explaining how the storage free period worked, she said consignment that were at the seaports before the waiver period was granted by NPA will pay for the numbers of days the consignments were at the port.
According to her, there were storage period pending before the waiver period and according to her, such charges won’t be waived.
“I think there must be lack of communication here because NPA actually asked us to grant waiver but I know a lot of agents didn’t actually show up, to catch on this waiver that was granted.
“So if they didn’t show up then it’s not our fault, but for those who showed up, I think a lot of them did enjoy the waiver.
“Let’s also get to clarify this, there are some demurrages that have been pending before the period of the waiver, definitely we won’t waive that.
“If for example, the cargo has stayed in the terminal for three weeks but what you owed before the three weeks you will definitely pay.
“As at the period of the waiver, what we do is that we will not calculate the period when you are mandated to leave.
“But we are not under any obligation to waive what you have previously owed before the waiver period” She declared.
Haastrup further explained that although the terminal operators were given two weeks to grant waiver, but said the operators decided to extend the free period by one week just to support the agents and the country at large.
“Don’t forget we were initially given four days to waive and another two weeks but I can tell you for a lot of us, we didn’t stop the waiver until Thursday, we decided to go beyond that period.
“That I can tell you and I know a lot of agents actually enjoyed the waiver beyond last week.
“I think it’s just communication gap, between us and NPA.
“I have their confidence and support, I think along the line we will sort it out we have never got into argument with NPA, we rarely do that because you know they are landlord so we have high degree of respect for that institution
“Everyone was asked to comply and I believe we all complied. I don’t know until proven otherwise, but we all agreed we will comply and we did comply” she claimed.
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