11th January, 2012
Mr. Kunle Folarin, a maritime economist, on Tuesday predicted that there would be crisis over demurrage at the ports after the ongoing strike.
He said that the crisis would be among the freight forwarders, importers, exporters, terminal operators and shipping companies.
Folarin told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that government should be prepared for an imminent post-strike crisis in the maritime sector over demurrage.
NAN reports that the labour unions and civil rights groups began an indefinite nation-wide strike on Monday over removal of fuel subsidy.
Folarin, who is the Chairman of Ports Consultative Council (PCC), said that there would also be problem of how to re-organise work procedures at the ports after the strike.
According to him, this is because importers, exporters and other stakeholders will claim that the demurrage is not their making.
He said government should now begin to think about how to manage the post-strike crisis.
“There will be protest against any attempt to impose demurrage or ground rents by shipping companies and terminal operators.
“There is the issue of chartered vessels that cannot operate in the ports during this period and fees would continue to be charged by owners of vessels,”’ Folarin said.
The PCC chairman said that the operators of terminals were going to lose money since the ports and the terminals were shut during the strike.
“Ships cannot enter the ports; they run costs for the days they are waiting at anchorage.
“It will distort their programmes that when they finish in Nigeria, they will go to another country.
“Internationally, it has economic costs to the ports authority in terms of harbour services and to the terminal operators in terms of cargo delivery.
“It has economic costs to freight forwarders and haulage business,” he said.
Folarin said that the stike had disrupted plans of operators and the scheduled traffic of international shipping to Nigeria.
The PCC Chairman said the strike had also disrupted manufacturing activities as supply of raw materials to the industries had been blocked.
He said that demurrage would accrue on “containerised” goods and the costs would eventually be passed on to consumers which could lead to inflation.