Following the over three weeks server down time at AP Moller Terminal (APMT) at Apapa Lagos with its attendant hardship imposed on the importers and their agents, the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) has called for calm saying that problem of this nature was better solve through dialogue than through legal means.
President of the association, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol who made this assertion in a chat with newsmen in Lagos reminded the stakeholders there was a port economic regulator which everyone should recourse to which is the Nigerian Shippers’ Council if there were problems in the ports.
Nicol added that even though the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was still in court with the terminal operators and the shipping companies, it could still influence one or two changes in the events that there were problems.
“We got to know about the problem in APMT a day before the Easter break and immediately we wrote to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. We are very organized individuals as shippers and we have a method of solving problem”.
“If we have port economic regulator and we have a problem like that, we expect other interested parties to contact the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the first point of contact and where there is no response from the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, they can send us a reminder, we take it up from there”.
“It is better to talk with the stakeholders together than for us to always resolve problems with the fire brigade style. We cannot say because Shippers’ Council is in court, they cannot do one or two things. The court did not say they should stop, they have the right to call APMT and say,’ why is this and why is that?” he said.
While acknowledging that the APMT had problem, he however blamed the company’s management for not coming out to tell its customers what the problem was noting that the freight forwarders were right when they demanded that APMT should waive all the demurrages that accrued during the period the system was down even as he maintained that,” you can only be paid when you give service, it is normal and if there is no service, you don’t expect any payment.
He continued,” it is not the fault of the shippers, it is not the fault of the freight forwarders, it is not the fault of the Nigeria Customs, it is a fault which they (APMT) cannot manage and they are supposed to have a backup in case they have breakdown like that and when they have backups like that, they can now move from the original equipment to the backup system to service their customers and we believe that the maritime industry will evolve to that stage where people will do business the way it is supposed to be done and then they respect the feelings of other people”.
The SALS boss therefore called on APMT and other terminal operators in Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the Ports and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML)/Grimaldi which he said was in the habit of giving concessions to its customers when issues like this occur.
“They (PTML/Grimaldi) normally have what they call credit note. They can give shippers credit note covering that amount that they have charged in case you want to pay your terminal charges next time, you present a credit receipt which should be debited against”, he explained.