An importer making use of Grimaldi shipping line for importation of cargoes into the country has accused the shipping company of exploitation and disrespect to the directive of the federal government for suspension of demurrage charges.
In a petition to journalists, the importer, Engr. Olusegun Okanlawon accused Grimaldi Group in Nigeria for calculating demurrages on shipped goods into the nation’s ports despite the directive of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) that shipping companies should suspend demurrage (100%) from 30th March till the end of the lockdown.
But, the shipping line has described the petition as lacking in fact saying the company is abiding to the directive of the NSC on demurrage and even providing additional reliefs to agents on case by case basis.
The Managing Director of the group, Ascanio Russo said he acknowledged the challenges they faced to operate in the port during the lockdown period as the banks were offering very limited services, transport to access the port was limited and the cost of clearing goods suddenly increased.
Russo said, “This is to confirm that we’re abiding to the directive of NSC on demurrage and we’re even providing additional relief to agents on case by case basis. We do sympathize with all our clients for the challenges they’ve faced to operate in the port during the lockdown period as the banks were offering very limited services, transport to access the port was limited and the cost of clearing goods suddenly increased.
“Despite all the challenges, we’ve been operating uninterruptedly, providing the best possible services and offering extensive online solutions to limit physical interaction,” he said.
In the petition titled “Crass Exploitation Plot by Grimaldi Nigeria”, Okanlawon said banks that facilitate payment of import duty, terminal charges, shipping company charges, transporters and other charges are not opened for normal transactions.
The petition reads, “While we join hands fighting the Covid-19 pandemic globally, it is far more important to arrest the endemic effect of mass exploitation of the Nigerian citizens, by shipping lines with particular emphasis on Grimaldi Group.
“It is saddening and rather shameful that the Grimaldi Group in Nigeria calculated demurrages on shipped goods into our ports despite the directive by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council that “shipping companies should suspend demurrage (100%) from 30th March to the end of the lockdown.”
“It is also important to note that the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of freight forwarders in the country, Mr Lucky Amiwero, in a petition sent to the Federal Government of Nigeria, said contrary to reports, banks are not open at the ports and some government agencies are not on ground to carry out their duties. Hence, he appealed to the government to waive rents and demurrages.”
“The banks that facilitate payment of import duty, terminal charges, shipping company charges, terminal charges, transporters charges, NAFDAC, SON etc., are not opened for the normal transactions till date.”
“As at today (06/05/2020), many owners of goods at the port have been charged at least NGN 100,000, while much more is demanded by Grimaldi from others. It is important to clarify that the reasons for not clearing the goods as and when due was not negligence on their part. These goods were not cleared because of their patriotism and adherence to orders issued by the governments (federal and state) to the citizens to “Stay Indoor.”
“Instead of waiving the charges following the lockdown by the federal government, and the announcement by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that it has suspended all fees following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nigeria, it is quite inimical to realize that this shipping company has calculated demurrages on all shipped goods starting from the moment the Lagos State government issued a lockdown order and continued the calculation through the Federal Government’s lockdown order, which lasted 21 days.”
“In this regards, we are calling out to the Federal Government of Nigeria, The Comptroller General of Customs to take charge and ensure that justice is done in this regards. One important question to ask is this: is this how Grimaldi Group is treating its clients in Italy and in other countries?
“It will be a reckless play on our collective intelligence and dignity if those charges are allowed to stay and Nigerian citizens are punished for not violating the government orders during the lockdown period. Hence, we seriously want the government to take immediate and compelling actions to avert a looming crisis and unprecedented loss.”
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