Shippers protest Maersk’s $300 surcharge on Nigerian-bound cargo

LAGOS- Shippers under the umbrella of Shippers Association Lagos State have protested the imposition of a $300 Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on Nigerian-bound cargo from Asian routes by Maersk Line.

According to a letter signed by Leo Ezeani Ogamba, president of Shippers Association Lagos State, and addressed to the executive secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, shippers described the surcharge as arbitrary.

Ogamba said the surcharge is a deliberate disregard for Nigerian laws and a breach of due process.

While pointing out that Nigerian shippers will not accept such, Ogamba said the members of the association cannot be coerced to pay for Maersk Line’s ‘choke points’ in ocean routes which triggers disruptions coming from its reduced number of transits and its rerouting of vessels around South Africa, which is also putting stress on the network.

Ogamba blamed Maersk Line for the practice of imposing charges with the intent to negotiate after shippers had started paying.

“We know of the fact that peak season is a period of increase in sales or demand, but the last we checked with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the third quarter of 2023, there were more exports worth N23.3 trillion and total imports stood at N19.7 trillion, which indicates a trade surplus of N3.5 trillion,” the letter dated January 15, 2024, reads.

Ogamba faulted the claim by Maersk that the $300 PSS can be attributed to peak season for imports to Nigeria, describing it as frivolous and groundless.

He said that in a contract of affreightment, freight rates to a destination port with available cargoes for a return voyage are lower than when there is no availability of cargo for the return journey.

He said that even if the $300 PSS were deemed reasonable, the lack of due process in its implementation renders it non-payable.

SALS President also used the medium to protest the exclusion of cargo owners in Lagos from meetings where shipping companies and terminal charges are being discussed.

Maersk announced a new $150 Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) on twenty equivalent units (TEU) of a container and a $300 on forty equivalent units (FEU) containers heading to Nigeria from China, Japan, Taiwan, and other Asian countries.

Nigeria’s Peak Season Surcharge, which became effective on January 8, also applies to containers originating from Brunei, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and East Timor.

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