French container shipping company, CMA CGM has reacted to the controversy surrounding its recently introduced congestion surcharge. 

The company said the charge is operation based and was not imposed by CMA CGM Nigeria as a local agent but by the ship owners.

Managing Director, CMA CGM Nigeria, Todd Rives, made the clarification in a statement made available on Wednesday copied to the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA).

Rives said the clarification became necessary following what he described as “misconception over the charge in the media”.

According to him, the surcharge in question is a prepaid charge payable at the port of origin by the shipper.

The shippers, Rives emphasized, determine if freight payable at origin is acceptable to them and have the right to choose which line they will enter into a contract of carriage with, hence CMA CGM cannot compel them to patronize its services. 

He added, “Furthermore, the operational charge is for clarity not applicable to shipments for which a contract of affreightment already exists as freight would have already been agreed before carriage, so no additional retroactive cost can be applied and no such charge is collected from the receivers in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We confirm that no invoice has ever been issued by our local agency CMA CGM Nigeria for this operational charge and this can be verified from your members who are our esteemed customers.”

ANLCA had on Monday warned that it would issued a global trade alert against CMA CGM and would subsequently advise importers to boycott the shipping firm over its planned introduction of the surcharge.

CMA CGM had in a circular issued recently stated that the congestion surcharge of $400 per 20ft and 40ft container will take effect from October 15, 2018.

The shipping firm had cited an increase in operational costs and recent service disruption at Nigerian ports as reasons for the surcharge.