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Fuel Scarcity: Port Users Count Losses, High Demurrage

Taiwo Hassan

lingering fuel crisis in the country has hindered smooth operations in the movement of containers out of the country’s ports, culminating to high demurrage cost. Clearing agents said they could not move out their cleared cargoes from the ports because of scarcity of Automotive Gas Oil otherwise known as diesel.

They lamented that the product non-availability caused huge losses to their business as the terminal operators and Nigeria Customs insisted that those containers already released must be moved out of the port or face demurrages. Similarly, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) said the fuel scarcity also took a toll on their business operation at the gateways. In a press statement issued by STAON, the association stated that, “the ports and terminals are driven by heavy-duty equipment and cranes, which are powered by diesel.

“It is sad to note that it is becoming increasingly difficult for our members to replenish their diesel stock due to the lingering scarcity of the product. “If this situation persists, it will adversely affect operations at the port, affect discharge of vessels and delivery of cargo.” The association however assured port users that its members would continue to take necessary steps “to mitigate any negative impact this ugly situation will have on them”.

The association therefore solicited the cooperation and understanding of the port community even as it expressed hope that fuel supply and distribution in the country would normalise soon. An official of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Union, that most of the freight forwarders cannot still move out their cargoes from the ports due to the scarcity of AGO product which he said its members are finding it difficult to get from petrol station.

The source appealed to government to ensure the product (AGO) be made available at the petrol station just as premium motor spirit (pms) otherwise known as petrol is being distributed at the moment. “Our members are still facing difficulty in accessing diesel at the filling stations at the moment and this does not help us in our day-today business activities. Most of our trailers are lying fallow at where they are parked now due to scarcity of diesel

. We want government to appeal to oil marketers to distribute the product to the filling station for us to buy. We are incurring high demurrage on our goods that are already cleared by the shipping companies at the moment.”

Managing Director Sadab Port Care Limited, Rasaq Ishola pointed out that there is lot of pressure on them (clearing agents) now in their work.

“Importers have been asking us of their containers especially their safety since we have not yet delivered them. Now, we are incurring high demurrage cost from the shipping companies on these goods over our inability to transport them out of the port and it is not our fault but our vehicles uses diesel,” Ishola said.

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