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Importers, Customs brokers fight Denca terminal over delivery delays, charges

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Our machine already being fixed, our charges minimal — Denca

By Godwin Oritse

IMPORTERS and Customs brokers may be having a harrowing time at the Denca Bonded Terminal following the inability of the terminal to deliver consignments months after vessels were stemmed from A. P. Moller Terminal to Denca.

Importers and their agents also complained about the outrageous storage charges being imposed on them even when the importers and agents were not the cause of the delays.

Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, Mr. Chukwuemeka Ilo said that the vessel that brought in his ten containers of cargoes arrived the A. P Moller Teminal on June 15, adding that out of the ten containers, four were transferred to Denca Bonded Terminal nine days later.

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Ilo also said that another four were again transferred to Denca on July 25, adding that the last of the ten containers was at the A.P.Moller Terminal as at the time of filling this report.

Ilo explained that upon arrival of the vessel, he went to A.P.Moller to take delivery of his consignment only to be told to go to Denca terminal to collect his cargoes. He lamented: “I do not know when they will transfer the last container because Customs has said that it cannot process them for clearance until they are completed. We have tried as much as we could to take delivery of these consignments but up till now we have not been able to collect our goods from Denca.

He also disclosed that he directed his lawyers to petition the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, over the situation at Denca.

Speaking in defence, Mrs. Oby Nweke, Public Relations Manager of the Denca Bonded Terminal, told Vanguard Maritime Report that about one or two of their equipment were down for about a month adding that the spare parts of these dysfunctional machines have been procured and are currently being fixed.

Nweke also said that the situation at the terminal was being exaggerated out of proportion. She said that what Denca charges importers for whatever services rendered is very minimal adding that the bulk of the charges come from terminal operators and government agencies like the Customs.

Nweke stated: “What is going on is that I think one or two ridge stackers are bad and it is being worked on because we only just got the spare parts recently. As you know, these are not machines you buy off the shelf, we got them from outside the country and their spare parts are usually not always available in Nigeria, but finally we have got the spare parts and the machines are currently being fixed.

“The situation is being blown out of proportion; there is no company that does not experience some hitches sometimes in the course of their operations. I am not aware of the outrageous charges and other things the importers and agents are talking about but I know the ridge stackers are being fixed and very soon, they will be up and running. I am sure that before the end of this week the machines would have been fixed and people will have their goods delivered to them.”

Another clearing agent operating at the Lagos port, Dele Olagunju, also accused the Denca Bonded Terminal of slamming outrageous amount on his container that arrived at the bonded terminal. The clearing agent claimed that Denca issued a debit note of N714, 058.63 for one 20ft container.

Olagunju, in a protest letter sent to the terminal, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent, alleged that the container was discharged into Denca terminal on July 30 after being delayed at APM Terminal for months.

He said that the vessel which berthed on May 18, 2020 and was supposed to have been transferred to the Denca Bonded Terminal but was delayed due to lack of capacity at the terminal.

He has threatened legal action against the bonded terminal if the anomaly is not corrected, stating that his company never requested for transfer of his consignment to Denca bonded terminal.

The letter reads in part: “This serves as a way of showing our displeasure against DENCA Bonded terminal for issuing an outrageous amount of N714,059.63 for just only 1x20ft container. This container was discharged into DENCA terminal on 30/08/2020 after over two months’ delay in APM terminal. The vessel berthed on May 18, 2020 and was supposed to have been transferred since then but, because DENCA has no capacity to transfer, hence, the delay.

“Sir, we are saying that Pebbles And Stones Nig. Ltd will not pay for what it did not consume therefore, items 2 and 7 should be expunged from the invoice because we did not request for step-down, neither did we cause any storage at APM terminal.  We did not also ask Ocean Network Express to allocate the container to an incapable terminal like DENCA Bonded Terminal.   Finally, we want an amicable settlement of the anomaly on the invoice within the next 12 hours or else, it will become an issue of litigation.”

However in a reaction by a staff of the bonded terminal sent to the consignee, a copy also obtained by our correspondent, the terminal urged the importer to pay the said amount before requesting for refund from the terminal, adding that international procedures require the payment of the charges before making request for refunds.

The response reads: “We have noted your complaint, Firstly; we will like to know if the transfer to Denca Bonded Terminal was requested by your company. Secondly, in the mean time international procedures require you to pay the stated sum in the invoice and you pick up your cargo to avoid demurrage for extra days after which you request for a refund from the Ttrminal”.

The accusation is coming on the heels of the recent ultimatum issued by the chairman of the task team Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko to Denca bonded terminal to upgrade its facilities or risk getting picketed again by freight forwarders.

Vanguard

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