By DAPO OLAWUNI
Two weeks after the sudden deactivation of Five Star Logistics Terminal on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) portal, Nigerian shippers owe over N2billion as demmurage to shipping lines.
Meanwhile, congestion is also brewing at the port facility with two vessels successfully discharging vehicles and containerized cargoes despite the terminal’s inability to access Customs portal.
Experts have also estimated the demurrage losses for Nigerian importers to exceed N2billion, while Customs revenue is also being threatened as some shipping lines have begun rescheduling their vessels to avoid the port.
Although projected losses for the seaport terminal is pegged around N1billion, the company has expressed willingness to waive storage charges for the period.
Meanwhile, a source at the facility has confirmed that the company’s top management are still in Abuja as they have been engaging Customs leadership at the headquarters.
Speaking on the development, the President of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite has asked Customs to explain what platform they will utilize in collecting unpaid duties from a terminal operator.
Otunba argued that there is no platform for a terminal operator to pay Customs duties that should have been paid by consignees.
According to the APFFLON boss, NCS is being inconsiderate by persisting with the terminal’s portal closure as Nigerian shippers are set to suffer colossal charges that would transmute into inflation in the country.
His words: “At this point, the only beneficiary of this situation is the shipping lines who are foreign organizations. The terminal operator will have to waive the storage charges because they are responsible for this; but shipping lines will not waive demurrage. This means shippers will pay the demmurage and pass the additional cost to Nigerians by increasing the prices of the imported goods.”
Ogunojemite also expressed worry that fast track goods and reefer cargoes are still made to suffer from Customs decision, describing the move as a huge setback for the nation.
He opined that Customs doesn’t seem to care because it would recoup its revenue whenever the portal is opened, but warned that the congestion at the ports and economic impact of the decision should make the Service reconsider its stance.
According to inside sources, two exotic brand new vehicles arrived recently with an estimated revenue of N2.5billion for Customs and several other cars were also seen at the facility because a ship had already discharged thousands of cars.
“We have had 2 vessels arrive so we are talking of about N5billion with N2.5billion per vessel.”
“On containers, the revenue should be around N1.2billion. Demurrage losses can be estimated to be over N2billion”
“Five Star will lose a lot of money also, about N1billion that should have been collected as storage charges. However, they are expected to give waivers,” a source who preferred anonymity said.
With congestion looming at Tin Can Island Port, many vessels are changing their scheduled plan because of this issue and the revenue of Customs and government is threatened.
Since vessels wouldn’t want to call at the ports to wait endlessly when the place is filled up, there are concerns that neighbouring seaports and land border smuggling may be seen as the next alternative for Nigerian shippers.
Meanwhile, several companies are being affected by the fast track cargoes which are usually production materials for manufacturers.