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Coronavirus: Customs agents write presidency to declare force majeure on Nigerian ports

Customs agents under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have written an open letter to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, requesting him to declare force majeure on Nigerian seaports owing to the impact of lockdown imposed by Federal and States Governments to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, on business.

According to the letter, which was signed by Iju Tony Nwabunike, national president of ANLCA, a copy of which was sent to BusinessDay, the Customs agents stated that it has become very difficult, if not totally impossible, to process Customs documentation and take delivery of cargoes in our ports during this period.

“Even when attempts are made, it becomes difficult because state governments have closed interstate borders, markets are locked and movement of certain vehicles restricted. Thereby, creating fear of losing money and investments through demurrage and other charges as may be affected by the shipping companies and terminal operators in the ports,” Nwabunike stated in the letter.

While calling for the enforcement of ‘force majeure’ and total lockdown of the seaport as already done in the airports and border stations to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus, he also appealed to the Federal government to prevail on shipping companies, terminal operators and other agencies in the ports to be prepared to waive all charges, taxes and fees during this period of national compromise at all levels.

Stating that business activities have not been on full swing at the ports due to the lockdown, he stated that there is possibility that imported and exported items might have been trapped in the various gateways to the nation, resulting to more demurrage and rent payable to shipping companies, and terminal operators.

“Consequently we seek for all demurrage, rents, penalties among others emanating from inability to clear cargoes as at when due from the ports at this period to be waived effective from the first week of March, 2020 when the first case of the deadly virus was detected in Nigeria through an Italian citizen,” the letter reads.

Nwabunike however assured the Federal Government that the association and its members across the country will support the government and all its agencies in the ports to ensure government achieve its objectives in making sure activities in the ports return to normal, especially in collecting revenue to the government.

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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