Foreign Investors in Nigeria have been accused of continually Defrauding and extorting money from freight forwarders and Importers.
A Freight Forwarder, Engr. Emmanuel Umeadi who made the accusation in an exclusive interview with Timenewsreporter.com in Lagos said terminal operators and shipping companies in the Maritime Industry are no more in for business but are after much money they will make illegally from freight forwarders through high demurrage.
Engr. Umeadi who is also the Chairman Of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF), KLT Chapter, blamed Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) for their inability to checkmate the operations of the foreign companies in the industry.
“The Nigerian Shippers’ Council are not getting it right. They allowed holes for foreigners to defraud us illegally. I ask one of the MDs of the shipping companies that in your own country, are you paying for storages and he said no. Then why are you now asking us to pay? He told me that Shippers’ Council told them to grant only two weeks waiver, so it’s only two weeks that they granted us, while some shipping companies are not granting waiver at all, that’s why I said that something is wrong with Shippers’ Council”, Umeadi concluded.
He further accused them of collaborating with Shipping Companies on the collection of illegal charges from freight forwarders saying, “As far as am concerned, what they getting is peanuts compared to what those companies are getting in one month. They are not getting not less than One point something billion naira in one month and they give Shippers’ Council peanut.
“When you import, they will collect demurrage of N17,000 N18,000, N20,000 depends on your bargaining strength. When the container leaves terminal, the same shipping companies collects the same money even when your container is still within or outside the terminal.
it is a problem and when you import again, they block you and tell you to go and pay, or tell you to come so that they will tell you how you are going to pay. I call it technical defrauding of which Shippers’ Council are not asking them questions. Is the right of the shipper’s Council to ask questions to know how they are doing business in Nigeria because it’s being guided by the laws of the Shipper’s Council.
“Am about to go to court with one of the shipping company. I only need to get approval from my President, NAGAFF which if he didn’t grant me, am an importerHe can’t even stop me. I will go to court because he is not the one paying demurrage, is just to let him know what am about to do as the chairman of NAGAFF because I am the one paying the prize.
“On the role of the !00% compliance Team of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF) on this issue and many others confronting their business transactions, Forwarder Umeadi said, “The compliance team is good. Tanko is very good but they need to put in chairmen of NAGAFF chapters to the team because they are the ones moving the cargo. If the chairmen are not the head or sub head of the compliance team, I don’t think they will achieve this because when you get someone who does not understand what expenditure and income is, who moves the cargo, who carries the masquerade, who pays money illegally because I believe monies we are paying to shipping companies are illegal not legal because legal is when you are paying the right thing, it may ot achieve desired goal.
“If you have issues with these shipping Companies, as their customer, it is your right to appeal to them but they will always tell you no or you forget your cargo there. And I put it to them that the rule of law says it is only 28 days, I might be right or wrong, that the cargo will stay at the port after which they transfer the cargo to Ikorodu Warehouse to reduce congestion in the ports. If they are planning to collect demurrage, they may not get it as they think because in their own country, they will beg you because they want to revive their economy. They will always try to find out what the problem is, and they will even ask you to pay what you have and carry your cargo. But in my own country, is the other way round.
“Shipping companies and terminal Operators is only income, income, income illegally that’s what they want. From Friday till now, do you know how many people that wants to take their cargos and pay demurrage but couldn’t because they don’t have network and they reduced their staff leaving only one staff to confirm receipts and print Terminal Delivery Orders (TDOs). We are in a technology world, anybody can print their TDOs from his house or from office. You don’t really have to come down to their Office to print TDOs except for some obvious reasons. If they really want to keep to what they called COVID-19 distance rules, , every customer should print TDO directly from his house unless they have technical issues that may warrant them to print them there . I have to print two TDOs, but since Tuesday till now it’s only one I have printed”.
On how much he had spent as a result of COVID-19, he disclosed that he had spent not less than one million Naira. “That is why it is paining me. Both shipping companies and terminals, if you don’t pay, they will remove your cargo and tell you they are paying they money to Federal Government, they are paying money to NPA which I know is wrong”.
Asked if he had brought this to the knowledge of NPA management, he said, “NPA even gave them order to waive demurrage but they said NPA does not have the right to give them order but Shippers’ Council does. That’s why I said Shippers’ Council is not getting it well”.