Freight forwarders threaten showdown over ‘illegal fee’ by terminal operator
Crisis may be brewing at the Lagos ports complex, as clearing agents under the auspices of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), expressed dissatisfaction over ‘illegal fee’ allegedly charged by Port and Terminal Multiservices Ltd (PTML) as a condition for allowing customs agents have access into their premises.
Head of Special Duty, NAGAFF, Emma Agubanze, accused PTML of collecting access card fees before allowing customs agents to come into their terminals. He therefore enjoined the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as the ports economic regulator and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as technical regulator and landlord of the ports to intervene and call the terminal operator to order.
Already, The Guardian gathered that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has intervened and is currently investigating the matter.Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Grimaldi Agency Nigeria, which is the parent company of PTML, Ascannio Russo, told The Guardian yesterday that the assess card collection is in line with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and facilitates the ease of doing business policy of the Federal Government.
NAGAFF threatened that it would lead a coalition of Freight Forwarders and Licensed Customs Agents Associations to stop the “seeming fraud” at the terminal, if government agencies fail to stop the terminal operator from the illegal collection.
When contacted, the PTML boss said: “There have been a lot of miss-information on the issue. The actual fact is that we have been collecting N10, 000 from the issuance of seven cards and that is only for the first timer. Now, we have decided to reduce the number of the agents (any agency can register). And you don’t need to pay anything to renew the card. It’s a one-off payment. This payment in actual fact is the payment covering a fraction of the costs we are incurring.’’
According to him, the card is to reduce the influx of agents into the port premises in line with the ISPS Code.“ This is a port and its a very sensitive area, and we need to operate in line with the ISPS regulation which defines the level of security in the ports all over the world. Besides, this process will facilitate the Ease of Doing Business, because whenever you register with us, you don’t need to present any other document when you come to collect your cargo.
Usually, when you come in to collect your cargo, you will have to present your IP, waybill, letter of indemnity and all sorts of documents. But, if you have registered with us, you will just go in straight to clear your cargo, so we don’t need to ask you for documents over again. So, this is facilitating the ease of doing business,” he explained.
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