Traders to incur huge demurrage as markets remain shut

By Sulaimon Salau |   27 March 2020   |   4:04 am  


…NIMASA, Sifax, others scale down operations
There are growing concerns that traders who have cargoes in the seaports may be incurring huge demurrage, as their business remained shut to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus.

Some of the traders in Lagos who spoke with The Guardian yesterday said they have shut their businesses in compliance with the state government’s directive.

A Furniture Dealer, Ben Asuquo, expressed worries that shutting down of business would further worsen economic challenges confronting the private sector.

He said some his consignments are still in the ports waiting to be evacuated, but the current situation makes it difficult for him to embark on such action, because the business is already shut down.

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“How do you expect me to cope, when my showroom is shut? I cannot bring goods that cannot be sold. I pray that that normalcy returns to the country soon. I cannot blame government for the decision to close markets and businesses; safety and health is priority, but government should help us with palliatives, in order to survive,” he said.

Although, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said the seaports remained open to operations, the operators have scaled down operations to avoid crowd around the seaports.

A terminal Operator, Sifax Group, operators of the Ports and Cargo Terminal at Tin Can Island Port has announced that it has scaled down operations across her different subsidiaries.

This is even as the apex regulatory agency in the maritime sector; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has equally directed some of its staff to work from home, while limiting the number of visits to its offices.

Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group, Adekunle Oyinloye, said core operations and technical personnel of the company would however be on ground while the non-essential departments will either maintain a skeletal service or work from home.

“For the few staff that will be at work and clients that will visit our business premises, necessary protective gears, thermometer checks, hand sanitisers, gloves and nose masks have been provided to keep them safe while the clinic at our port terminal in Tin Can Island Port, Lagos is open round the clock to attend to any emergencies”

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Meanwhile, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), as well as the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has shut down their offices.

While ANLCA announced the total shutdown of its national secretariat, CRFFN announced the partial shutdown of its offices with staff on level 12 and below to work from home while some staff remained in office to attend to enquiries and concerns of freight forwarders.

National President of ANLCA, Tony Iju said: “Our own government has closed down schools, borders and shut down Government Secretariats. It is apparent that activities at the Wharf will also be scaled down to an all-time low,”
While, their secretariat is shut, the clearing agents are on duty attending to importers that may wish to clear cargo from the ports.

Registrar of CRFFN, Samuel Nwakohu has also directed that only relevant department and personnel should be at work. “Our offices nationwide are however opened for enquiries and assistance,” he said.

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