African Shippers call for immediate suspension of Peak Season Surcharge

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By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos, Aug. 21, 2020 The Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) has called for the immediate suspension of Peak Season Surcharges (PSS) imposed by Shipping Lines serving the West African Trade Route.

Mrs Rakiya Zubairu, Head of Public Relations, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), in a statement in Lagos on Friday, said that it was in line with the Council’s position.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2020 peak period charges of between $1000 and $1,500 per twenty-foot equivalent unit(TEU) by shipping firms, were over 400 per cent increase on the previous $200 freight charge per TEU during peak period.

The six companies involved are Cosco, Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd and Evergreen shipping.

Zubair said that the Shippers’ Council had, in an Aug. 16 letter addressed to the European Community Ship Owners Association (ECSA) and copied to the UASC, bemoaned the outrageous increase in surcharges.

She said that it was with particular reference to Peak Season Surcharge (PSS) levied on Nigeria-bound cargo.

“In a letter signed by the Secretary-General, Ogoula Giscard Lilian, the UASC strongly condemned the unilateral and offensive action by ECSA carriers in blatant disrespect of previous agreement and expectations.

“The action destabilises the business operations of its members through the increased transport costs and weakening of the economies of UASC member-states especially during the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.

“The effect of the pandemic has kept commercial activity at its lowest in terms of activity and prosperity,” she said.

Zubairu said that the letter to ECSA further stated that the implementation of this unilateral decision on their part was in violation of previous UASC/ECSA agreements.

She added that the agreements required prior, mutual and reasonable notification of UASC and PMAWCA by individual shipping companies before imposition of new tariffs, surcharge or increase in transport cost.

The NSC official pointed out that the letter referred ECSA to the report of the UASC/ECSA meeting held on July 16, 2010; Joint Declaration between UASC and ECSA signed in Brussels on April 12, 2012.

Zubairu said that the UASC called on ECSA to kindly respect previous agreements and recommendations by suspending the application of Peak Season Surcharge until discussions on the new surcharges took place.

Nigerian Shippers’ Council had convened a meeting of stakeholders and the organised private sector to discuss the astronomical increase in Peak Season Surcharge, which they unanimously condemned.

Mr Cajetan Agu, Nigerian Shippers’ Council Director, Consumer Affairs, said a joint platform made up of UASC, Shippers’ Council and other relevant stakeholders would be created to facilitate discussions with ECSA.

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