Lagos — A group under the aegis of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, has threatened to commence legal action against terminal operators and shipping firm for refusal to refund demurrages collected during the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the office of the Secretary to the Government, President of the group, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, said that the group has drawn the attention of the refusal of these stakeholders to the Federal Government to refund the waiver of 35 days relief granted the Importers/ Licensed Customs Agents under the COVID 19 Pandemic by the Presidency.
He blamed the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority who is suppose to implement the directive of conniving with the terminal operators and shipping firms for refusing to make the refund.
In the letter dated July 26th 2021, and titled “Notification of the intention to sue for the refusal of the terminal operators and the shipping companies to refund the thirty five days of demurrage waiver and rent approved for the relief of importers and licensed Customs agents on Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.”, Amiwero also said that the move to waive the demurrage is in line with principle of force majeure restricting the movement of all agencies especially the Importer/ Licensed Customs Agents who were mostly affected.
Part of the letter reads: “The Terminal Operators and Shipping Companies with the connive with Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) who are to implement the waiver process, refused to implement the directive from the presidency of the thirty five(35) days of waiver on demurrage and rent for Importer/Licensed Customs Agents(LCA) which is clear contravention of international maritime obligation on COVID 19 Pandemic and the presidential directive on the relief for Licensed Customs Agents.
“The total collection by the Terminals operators and Shipping companies on the waived rent and demurrage, was made possible by Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) that allowed the “Terminal operators and Shipping companies to collect all the thirty five(35) days, which was supposed to be refunded to the Importers/ Licensed Customs Agents.
Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) aided the Terminal Operators and Shipping Companies by issuing the circular HQ/GM/MRS/OP/L.1/VOLII/434 OF 14TH MAY 2020 on the demand of the refund to the National Council Of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents(NCMDLCA) after the ease of the lockdown, when the Terminal Operators/ Shipping Companies have illegally and forcefully collected the rent of the thirty five(35) days without refund to the Importers/Licensed Customs Agents.
“The Management of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) was forwarded with the Terminal Operators and Shipping Companies receipt of payment made by the importers/Licensed Customs Agents(LCA)which falls under the date of the waiver of the thirty five days that was illegally and forcefully collected, which was not paid up till date the letter is attached and marked appendix 3