Importers Incur More Charges As Underwater Cable Cuts Trap Cargoes At Seaports

Importers Incur More Charges As Underwater Cable Cuts Trap Cargoes At Seaports

The underwater cable cut in the Atlantic Ocean has trapped several thousand of cargoes at the nation’s seaports, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report.

This has, however, disrupted bank services, Customs server, shipping companies and terminal operators services in the nation’s Marítime sector.

To this end, importers have incurred storage charges from terminal operators and demurrage charges from international shipping companies.

LEADERSHIP reports that in the early hours of Thursday, March 14, 2024, most Nigerians were unable to carry out online transactions due to a fault that occurred as a result of an external incident that resulted in a cut on MainOne submarine cable system, in the Atlantic Ocean offshore Cote D’Ivoire, along the coast of West Africa.

This has led to internet disruption, experienced by major sectors that include Banking, telecom, aviation, Marítime, formal and informal sectors in the country.

However, MainOne, a West African digital infrastructure service provider, said repairing its undersea submarine cables might take one to two weeks, meaning the disruption across the sectors will subsist for a few more weeks.

LEADERSHIP gathered over the weekend that, on Thursday and Friday, clearing agents were unable to pay Customs duty as banks collecting import duty all had network issues.

Also, Customs servers were fluctuating, thereby, frustrating cargo clearance with importers accruing demurrage.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP, a clearing agent operating at Tin-Can Island Port, Oluwaseun Akinola, said exiting cargoes at the seaport has been an herculean task.

According to him, while the Customs server has been fluctuating, payment of duty has been frustrating.

“It hasn’t been easy for us to make payment since Thursday. The network has been fluctuating, a lot of cargoes especially used vehicles that should have been exited are still in the terminal accruing storage charges.

“We hope Monday will be better because some banks are still experiencing breakdown and if we don’t pay customs duty, shipping and terminal charges, we can’t exit our cargo from the seaport,” Oluwaseun stated.

Also speaking, the Tin-Can Island chapter Chairman, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, (APFFLON), Alhaji Akeem Ayobiojo, said servers have been fluctuating and paying Customs duty has been very difficult at banks.

According to him, without customs duty, no way cargoes can leave the ports -Sea or Airport.

“The cut in underwater cable has led to demurrage for importers as cargoes that are supposed to have exited the seaports are still trapped accruing surcharges. We know it’s a problem above the federal government as it affects other West African countries.

“On Friday, we were unable to exit our cargoes, but, we hope it will be better by Monday because we can’t continue accruing surcharges,” he stated.

Aminu Nababa, on Friday, said he was unable to exit already cleared vehicles from the Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML), because he was unable to make customs duty payment at the collecting bank.

According to him, he was unable to pay on Thursday, Friday, thereby, accruing demurrage for the importer.

“I have two vehicles which I am supposed to have removed from the terminal but the banks said there was no network and they attributed it to the underwater cable cut. I hope I can make the payment by Monday so that I can remove the vehicles by Tuesday because we the importer have incurred additional demurrage,” he told LEADERSHIP on phone.

On his part, Ikechukwu Ababa, called on shipping companies and terminal operators to waive the surcharges incurred by importers due to the cable cut.

He argued that the current happenings in the country demand sacrifice from everyone including multinationals.

“Though, this crisis isn’t caused by anyone. It was a West Africa crisis that affected business activities and operations. We can’t exit cargo and we are accruing demurrage and storage surcharges. The multinationals should waive this for us. It’s not our fault and it isn’t theirs also but, they need to give us free days because this is a general crisis.

“With the high inflation rate and other economic headwinds, the best thing is for the shipping and terminal operators to give us respite,” he stated

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