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Introduction of peak season in January is unfair – Nigerian Shippers

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Estelle Maersk on her maiden voyage. Departing Algeciras for the Suez on the 27th November 2006 Picture must be credited Simon Burchett www.channelphotography.com

By Abiodun OBA

 

The introduction of a peak period in January by Maersk has been described as “unfair”.

Maersk, in a statement yesterday, announced the the imposition of a $300 Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on Nigeria-bound containers from Asian countries, adding that the surcharge on Nigeria-bound cargo is part of an array of the shipping line’s new PSSs that will apply to various countries.

However, Nigerian shippers kicked against the policy by Maersk arguing that there is a subsisting court injunction preventing the shipping lines from increasing charges without due process.

They said the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), which is the regulatory agency, is not aware of the action and has not advised on such an increase, insisting they would not pay the surcharge as no due process was followed before the increase.

Maersk, in a statement on Wednesday, announced the imposition of $300 PSS on 1x40ft units and $150 on 1x20ft unit containers heading to Nigeria from China, Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries.

The increase suggests the additional cost of importation. Over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s total importation comes from China alone.

The Nigeria PSS, which became effective on January 8, 2024, also applies to containers originating from Brunei, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and East Timor.

The surcharge from Vietnam to Nigeria and other West African countries will be effective on January 18, while the surcharge from Taiwan to Nigeria and other West African countries will be effective on February 2.

Expressing concerns, Nigerian shippers said there is only one peak season in a year, which comes July, August, September, October and at worst, November, noting that having a peak season introduced in January, which is a harsh period when people are recouping, is unfair.

The Vice Chairman of Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC) Integrity Alliance, Lagos, Jonathan Nicol, said with this, the shipping line is indirectly introducing two peak seasons km a year, which entails an increase in freight charges.

“The peak period is supposed to be July, August, September, October, at worst, November, now, they are introducing it in January. So, how long will it take? If you include January and February, what about March, April?

“Because if it runs for three months, that means we are always into another peak season, which in a year, you have shippers paying double money for peak seasons,” he said.

Nicol, who is also a shipper, said during every peak season, the shipping lines increase the freight charges, noting that because the shipping line has a large volume of cargo now, they want to recover from the less cargo they used to have in the harsh period.

“They make up their shortfall through the peak season because they have more cargoes and that is why they use larger containers to bring in more containers during the peak season.

“So, they are introducing the peak season in January. For how long will it run? We are looking at July, August, September and October. That’s four months and now, you have January, February, March and April. Then, we only have June in a year before another peak season starts. Are we going to have two peak seasons in one year? Is this peak season period or do you want to dovetail into another peak season period that is two peak seasons in 2024?” he queried.

Nicol said the shipping line should come out directly to indicate and increase in the freight charges instead of introducing peak season at the beginning of the year.

“This surcharge will increase the freight charges so we are calling on the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to study this situation and take a stand and stop all these increases because it will make importers not make down projections correctly.

“When they put freight charges $3,000 and suddenly you are now having $4,000 it alters your clearing plan. These are tough days ahead for shippers,” he said.

© 2024, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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