The Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA) has decried what it described as 200 per cent excess charges on overnight/auction cargoes by Maersk Line in Onne Port.
The association expressed their grievances in a peaceful protest against the company recently at Onne Port, Rivers State.
In his address, the Onne Port branch Chairman of ANLCA, Prestige Ossy, accused Maersk Line Limited of flouting Federal Government directive in this regard by collecting more than the required rates, saying that “they are only entitled to collect the container deposits because those containers have been seized by the Federal Government as prohibited cargoes and it is now the property of the Government, not Maersk Line, the auctioneer or the person buying the property. And once the Federal Government stamps on it, you don’t have right over it.”
According to Ossy, the prohibition law says that the consignee, the carrier, the vessel, the importer and the agent clearing the prohibited consignments are all liable. He wondered why Maersk Line should collect money from open containers at 200 per cent increase as against the federal Government approved rate.
Reacting to the allegations, the General manager, Maersk line limited, David Olowo, said that auctioning of cargoes falls within the powers of the Federal Government, and that when it was observed that there was a disparity between the Lagos and Eastern Ports, a representation was made to ISAN, who in turn wrote to the Ministry of Finance and Transport respectively, to look into the implementation again and how to handle auction papers.
He further explained that what was agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding was not what was in the print out, meaning that they were still using all the print out in the archive instead of the MoU.
According to him, “In the last meeting with Federal ministries of Transport and Finance, we agreed that it is not only the Customs and the terminal operators that will earn income from auction, we also agreed that shipping companies will be rewarded as part of the MoU. But when they printed the Custom auction paper, they excluded that out, so we returned that one to Ministry of finance and as soon as they come out with it, we will all see it.
In the agreement, NIMASA, Ministry of Finance. Ministry of Transport and other stakeholders, the carrier, terminal operators, government will all benefit in the auction of the seized containers.”