Palpable fear gripped freight forwarders last week as frontline shipping company; Pacific International Lines (PIL) stopped operations because one of its staff had tested positive to the dreaded Coronavirus decease.
Freight forwarders who trooped down to the company to process their shipping documents were sent back on Friday, they were directed to check back on Monday because the company had shut down operations due to their staff contracting the virus.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, freight forwarders have however expressed concerns of incurring demurrage charges for the period that operations were stopped.
Our correspondent learnt that the freight forwarders are expected to pay not less than N12,000 per day on each container.
One of the freight forwarders who pleaded anonymity expressed concerns in a chat with our correspondent that shipping companies in Nigeria are not always willing to waive demurrage even though the fault is from them.
Investigations have shown that freight forwarders still troop to Nigerian ports in their quest to process import documents. Many of them could be seen at shipping companies clustering together without use of face masks or use of necessary protective equipment .
Experts have however warned that Nigerian ports may record a higher number in cases of the Coronavirus because most freight forwarders at the shipping companies and terminals do not observe social distancing or observe necessary precautions.
Two leading bodies of freight forwarders and clearing agents, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) have since advised their members to stay away from the ports if they have no jobs at hand.
“We advise the entire freight forwarding practioners operating at the western ports of Nigeria to stay off the ports environment if they do not have a defined responsibility to carry out within the customs ports. This has become necessary for their safety and protection from the presidential directives ports,” said Aniebonam Boniface, founder of NAGAFF.