The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Friday wielded the big stick on the terminal operators in Lagos ports over alleged failure to comply with its directive on collection of demurrages on cargoes during the lockdown of Lagos as a result of the COVID-19 PandemicThe NPA has consequently issued an official query to the operators, in which it stated that it views “seriously the flouting of any Federal Government directive and will not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions where this is confirmed to be true “.
The query gave the Terminal Operators 48 hours to explain “reasons for your non-compliance of the Federal Government directive, or evidence to the contrary. We expect to receive your response before close of work on Tuesday, 5th May, 2020“.
A copy of the letter which was obtained by our correspondent and which was signed by General Manager, M&RS, Ugo Madubuike for the Managing Director was titled: “Re- failure to comply with the federal government’s directive on issuance of relief measures to port users in respect of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The letter reads in part: “You will recall that following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Ports Authority issued directives vide letters HQ/GM/MRS/Op/L.1/vol.11/339, HQ/GM/MRS/OP/L.1/vol.11/372 and HQ/GM/MRS/OP/L.1/vol.11/379 dated 2nd, 8th and 15th April, 2020 respectively for the suspension of rental charges on consignments from 23rd March, 2020 for an initial 21 days and from 13th April, 2020 for an additional 14 days.
“This was done in recognition of the challenges being experienced by consignees in clearing their goods due to the various levels of movement restrictions imposed by the Federal and State Governments.
“You will also recall that to relieve you of the associated loss of revenue from the implementation of these directives, the Authority undertook to refund you the waivers granted to consignees during this period, through the issuance of credit notes for the amount waived, in line with the approved and published rates.
Recall that the NPA had in March 23, 2020 directed terminal operators to suspend all applicable terminal storage fees on consignments (demurrage) for an initial period of 21 days effective. It also on April 13, 2020 gone further to grant further extension of the grace period for non-collection of demurrage following the extension of the Lockdown by President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, April 12, 2020.
The NPA had explained in the letter signed by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, that the gesture was in recognition of the pressure that COVID-19 pandemic imposed on businesses and the responsibility imposed on the Authority to relieve this burden on its customers as well as attaining the objective of the Federal Government’s ease of doing business policy at this trying period.
In the letters, the NPA had stated clearly that compensation to terminal operators will be as spelt out in its April 8, 2020 letter to the terminal operators.
In Friday’s query, the NPA declared that, it “will not tolerate any form of non-compliance with directive and not hesitate to apply the appropriate sanctions.
The Captioned Photo: The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)