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Importers, agents kick over ‘illegal’ charges by Sifax

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SIFAX Group Chairman, Taiwo Afolabi

Importers and clearing agents have frowned at the recent charges introduced by Ports and Cargo Handling Services, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, on all cargoes going out of its terminal to other bonded terminals.

The Guardian gathered that the terminal operator just introduced a ‘Royalty’ charge of N121, 565 per 40foot container and N62, 361 per 20foot container on all cargoes going out of its terminal to bonded terminals from May 21, 2018.

The new charge is however not applicable to containers going to all SIFAX bonded and off-dock terminals.

When contacted for enquiries, the Corporate Affairs Manager of Sifax Group, Muyiwa Akande, promised to get back to The Guardian, but did not reply as at press time.

Indiscriminate introduction of arbitrary charges by terminal operators has been an order of the day in Lagos ports (the busiest in the nation), even as importers and clearing agents have continued to groan under the burden those illegal charges.

Head, Special Duty, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Emma Agubanze, told The Guardian that they would not accept such illegal charges, threatening to use all available mercenaries to resist the action.

He said: “What they are doing is an illegality of arbitrary charges. We have laws and regulations in this country and such obeyed by operators including the terminal operators, customs and even the freight forwarders.

Sifax has no authority to do such a thing and there are people that are already complaining about the operation of the terminal operators. He said they ought to have sought the approval of the NSC.

“They cannot claim to have any extra service in the movement of container to off dock facility. Whatever service they will render is already factored in the transire. Before, you move cargoes out of their terminal you will have to pay handling charges.

Note that cargoes do not fly into their terminal, some people directed those cargoes to their terminals, so will collect all their handling charges.

“What they are trying to do now is to introduce additional charges, which is unacceptable to shippers and freight forwarders and we will resist it with all available instrument at our control,” he said.

An importer, Keneth Johnson, who spoke to The Guardian in Tin Can Island port, urged the terminal operator to reverse the charges in the interest of the national economy.

Johnson said the frequent introduction of charges at the Lagos port have negatively affected businesses at a time when the Federal Government claims to be pursuing the Ease of Doing Business agenda.

Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) Tin Can Island Chapter, Prince Segun Oduntan, appealed to Sifax to reverse the charges, describing it as a monopolistic incrimination.

He said the new charges would have serious consequences of on the agents and importers because it means that those that did not patronize them must pay additional fees for off dock services.

Oduntan said the new policy would be detrimental to private companies that have invested billions of naira into establishing off dock facilities, and jeopardise continued existence of such firms.

He faulted the Federal Government for granting license to an operator with existing facility inside the port, adding that this idea will not give room for survival of other operators without terminals in the port.


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