In view of operational failures of Heritage Bank which has continued to affect freight forwarders and importers businesses negatively, the Managing Director International Supply Chain Systems(ISCS) Chief Afam Chukwuma has described the Bank as a clog in the wheel of trade facilitation.
It would be recalled that aggrieved and frustrating freight forwarders who protested in their banking hall over the reocurring systems failure, lamented that such inconsistencies has hampered their clearing procedures as well as made them incurre high demurages.
Chief Chukwuma who expressed sadness over the situation while speaking with newsmen in his office in Lagos wondered how they could achieve 48 hours cargo clearance when it takes Heritage Bank 14 to 21 days to process duty payments and issue receipts.
“We are talking about ease of doing business in the port, the other time , a presidential task force on 48 hours cargo clearance was set up for implementation. How realisable can it be with the obvious situation at hand?
“My company is affected. My Lawyer has written to them demanding for compensation and payment or refund of demurrage and all the cost accidented to them , and if there is no good response to them, my Lawyer will sue them .
The ISCS Boss lamented the ordeal his company has suffered as a result of their ineptitude and prolonged unstable network, adding that a lot of freight forwarders are trapped as a result as their companies cannot transact businessess.
“We will sue Heritage Bank. We will sue them except they respond favourably to our letter and refund us because the shipping companies, Terminal companies you cannot explain to them the reason you did not take your containers to them is because Heritage Bank did not process your payment receipt.
“You open form ‘M with Heritage Bank, process your PAAR with them and accessed your document, take the necessary notice to them and check for duty payment and it stays in their bank for weeks before they give you receipts and those periods you will be paying demurrage. This is unacceptable, that can no longer happen. A lot of freight forwarders are trapped. You cannot do business because they say heritage Bank has network issue.
“I don’t know the kind of network issues they have.it’s their own internal issues but there was a particular day we accessed jobs from five different banks,every other 4 banks issued us receipts the same day. Heritage Bank took almost 13 days to issue receipts for the same day.
“So the consequences of this is negating trade facilitation which is the hob of the entire process, slowing down the speed delivery of goods and creating issues for us and the customers and increasing the cost of clearing and cost of doing business. So, this is totally against the spirit of trade facilitation and this must not continue.
“We have written to them, and if we do not get any good response, we due them.”
According to him, “they have been having network issues, but in two ,three days , they pay, but in the last two months , it has become so bad. The signs have been there.
“For the last two months as we speak to you now, I have two documents with them to be processed for payment there, they have not been able to issue receipts.
“They have two different branches, I have sent my staff, begging them practically. We don’t want to be fighting with banks because we are partners in progress. They can deny it or accept it but they know that they are not encouraging trade as long as issue of issuing payment receipts are concerned.
“I don’t know what the problems are,
All they kept saying is network, network. If there network is different from the other banks, I don’t know. We don’t have issues with the other banks except Heritage Bank
“If you take an average everyday demurrage, terminal and shipping if you enter last period, a day demurrage is about N30,000 because terminal is about N12,000 on the last period and shipping is about average of N18,000 or N19,000 or thereabout.
“If you put the two together, you get more than N30,000 per day plus Vat. So, if you calculate the number of days per container per agent or freight Forwarder who use Heritage Bank, you can be rest assured that Hundreds of millions of Naira had been lost to Heritage bank across board uptill today because of their delay and inability to process payment and issue receipts”, he opined
Several efforts made by our correspondent to get the response of the management of the Bank proved abortive.
Photo: Chief Afam Chukwuma, MD ISCS Limited