Shippers Towers Apapa, headquarters of the Nigerian Shippers Council


Gulf Agency Shipping Nigeria Limited has at last bowed to pressure to release a total of 50 containers belonging to Nestle Nigeria plc over a controversial N37 million allegedly accrued from demurrage

The Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria’s apex economic regulator for the seaports  had Wednesday, ordered the closure of the premises of the company  located in Apapa over its unilateral decision to seize 50 containers belonging to Nestle on allegations that the multinational manufacturing giant was indebted to it to the tune of N37million accrued  from demurrage and other related payments.

Recall that the Council also in a similar incident recovered $23,000.00 from Cosco Shipping Company as overbilling demurrage charges for Sunflag Steel Limited.

The council, which however unsealed the premises after some hours to allow operational activities to continue, had also scheduled a mediation meeting for all parties at its headquarters, where it was resolved by all parties that the containers be released immediately.

Business and Transport however gathered that following this resolution, GAC has accepted to release the detained containers to pave way for other reconciliatory meetings where parties would determine the actual amount of indebtedness, as Nestle has vehemently contested the N37million being bandied about by the shipping company.

Director in charge of Special Duties of the Council, Mr. Ignatius Nweke, who confirmed this new development, disclosed that the meeting summoned by the council to discuss the issues was fruitful, as the shipping company has accepted to release the containers, most of which are raw materials to avoid any further damage.

According to him, another meeting has been fixed for next week, where the feuding parties will discuss the issue at stake, which is the N37million indebtedness. It was further gathered that parties are expected to come to the meeting with documented evidences to buttress their claims.

Recall that the decision of the Enforcement Unit of the Council to shut the premises of the shipping company followed a petition received from JOF Nigeria Limited, a logistics company that clears consignments belonging to Nestle plc, after several pleas to the shipping company, which fell on deaf ears.

In the petition, JOC had complained that GAC refused to release its containers since the goods arrived the country on March 7, 2018. The shipping line had insisted on not releasing the 50 containers on the argument that JOF failed to return its empty containers on time, in which it is to pay an outstanding  N37 million as demurrage.

In addition to the payment of N37million payment before the release of the 50 containers, the shipping company also claimed that the logistic company will also pay another N19million as charges for the new 50 containers on the basis of N1.8 million per day from the date of arrival, bringing to a total of N56 million, which the company contested.

The council had argued that the shipping line does not have to seize the 50 containers of raw materials as this will impact negatively on the production schedule of the company.

Besides, the Council noted that since the JOF is an established customer of the shipping line and given the excuse for returning the empty containers late, the shipping line does not have to seize its containers meant for production purposes, arguing that the logistics company has not said categorically that it was not going to pay the demurrage charges.                                                                                                                                                                           A member of the enforcement unit of the council, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “The Council frowns at the refusal of GAC to release the new containers which are raw materials for production based on the claim of N37 million debt on late return of empty containers. The Council views this as against Federal Government’s policy of promoting ease of doing business at the nation’s seaports and this is not good enough for the national economy.