Shipping Companies incur $45,000 demurrage daily due to absence of night voyage at Onne Port


For fear of pirate attacks, shipping companies operating at the Eastern flank of the Nigerian seaport have shunned night voyage, thus incurring an estimated  sum of $45,000 daily as demurrage.
The flank especially the Onne Port has been‎ bedevilled by series of pirate attacks that shipping companies are left to stay overnight thereby accruing demurrage.

Investigation revealed that a vessel coming into the port experiences an average of six hours delay at $7,500 per hour.
This delay could also cost a shipping company as much as $45,000 (N16.2 million daily), which will be consequently passed on to the importers of the consignments on board the vessel.

The vessels choose to stay till day break after discharge, for fear of being attacked by pirates during  night voyage, thereby incurring huge  costs as demurrage as a result of the delays.

The Eastern ports have been operating including the Onne Port operate  on security level two on the International Ships Ports Security (ISPS) Code 2 due to insecurity in the region.
However, due to insecurity, vessels that berth and discharge find it difficult to sail out at night for fear of pirate attacks.
Recall that the Gulf of Guinea accounts for 29 incidents in 2018 Q1, more than forty percent of the global total.
For instance, on 22nd of  March, a merchant vessel reported that it came under attack from two speedboats 53 nm southwest of Bonny at 2348 hours local time.
Also, on the 7th of April, a bulk carrier was chased down and boarded by pirates off Brass, Nigeria.
The bulk carrier was sailing around 41 nautical miles south-southeast from Brass when four pirates in a speedboat armed with guns caught up with the tanker and came on board.
Before leaving the ship, pirates fired upon and damaged the ship’s equipment and accommodation. The perpetrators stole the ship’s cash and properties.
The acting Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Engr Chidi Izuwah has expressed worry over inability of vessels to sail out at night at Onne Port.
Speaking at an industry event recently, the ICRC boss regretted that vessels cannot sail out of the port as it is done in Lagos port.
“No night sailing at Onne Port and this is worrisome unlike what happened at Lagos Port where vessels can sail out at any time of the day.”
However, a reliable source in one of the container terminal at Onne Port, West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) disclosed that vessels failed to sail out of the port over insecurity.
He said shipping companies are left with an option of sailing out at night and get attacked or wait till the following morning to avoid attack.
The source who craved anonymity also said that the security situation in Onne Port has been a source of concern to all stakeholders, especially shipping companies and importers.
The source said, “Due to insecurity, night voyage is absolutely prohibited at Onne Port due to insecurity fueled by pirate attacks.
“As a shipping company, you choose between your vessel being attacked  and crew abducted and you staying over and incurring demurrage.”
He said shipping companies would rather incur demurrage than allowing their vessel to be attacked during night voyage,” the source said.
The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB), in its Q1 report on piracy said  Nigeria alone recorded 22 incidents of the 11 vessels fired upon worldwide.
According to the report, eight vessels  were fired at off Nigeria – including a 300,000 MT deadweight VLCC tanker more than 40nm off Brass.
“Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are against all vessels. Crews have been taken hostage and kidnapped from fishing and refrigerated cargo vessels as well as product tankers.
In some cases, the attacks have been avoided by the early detection of an approaching skiff, evasive action taken by the vessel and the effective use of citadel,” the report said.
However, shipping expert Dr Kofi Mbia has stated that the surge in pirate activities could have a wrong impact on commercial trading in the shipping industry as it would affect the climate of confidence in trade and influence the rise in insurance premiums.
Mbia, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) warned of high insurance premiums over high pirate attacks.
“When your coast is infested with pirates then there is the tendency for insurance premiums to go up for vessels that are calling at your port because of the threat to the vessels and at the same time it affects the climate of confidence in trade.
“Vessels must be able to move freely and navigate to and out of the port but whenever there are increase pirate attacks, there is the tendency for some vessels not to call on some particular ports because of fear of attack so indeed it affects commercial trading,” he said.

© 2018, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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