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The agent protests against the increase in shipping costs.

The clearing agent has challenged shipping company Grimaldi’s plan to charge 25,000 naira for issuing a personal identification number.

Agents say that the increase in commissions of companies for the exchange of PIN-codes will have a negative impact on importers.

PIN codes are commonly used for imported goods that do not have a bill of lading.

If the importer does not have a bill of lading, the PIN will be sent to the importer from the port of departure.

It is used to unload cargo at the port of destination instead of the original bill of lading.

Grimaldi Shipping Company, a subsidiary of Ports & Terminal Multipurpose Limited, had in a circular sighted by The PUNCH and dated January 24, 2023, announced that the PIN release charge with effect from February 1 would be N25,000.

The letter partly read, “As our customers are aware of inflationary challenges in the business environment, we are, therefore, forced to adjust our charges towards PIN release service.

With effect from February 1, the PIN release fee would be N25,000 per bill of lading. You may continue to secure release submission of the original bill of lading, which is at no extra cost.”

Reacting to the development, clearing agents in separate interviews said on Wednesday it was not compulsory for an importer to pay for what they might not need.

They also said other shipping companies charge for PIN release, but noted that Grimaldi’s fee was outrageous.

The Deputy President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Ugochukwu Nnadi, who is in charge of shipping and terminal services, said, “Before this time, PIN release charge was less than N10,000; now they are raising it to N25,000. Why will shipping companies ask such a person to pay so much money?

“We have written to the Nigerian Shippers Council and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria over the development, but there was no headway.

It is not only Grimaldi, other shipping companies also charge for PIN release, though Grimaldi charges higher.

Other shipping companies charge between N7,000- N12,000 but Grimladi charges as high as N25,000.

According to Nnadi, shipping companies do not have the right to charge for PIN release before releasing cargo.

“Also speaking, a freight forwarder, Mr George Okafor, said, “Yes, there is an additional charge of N25, 000 and we are in dialogue with Grimaldi on that issue. It used to be N10,000. It was increased.”

Meanwhile, in his response, a staff with Mediterranean Shipping Company, who does not want his name in print said, “That is documentation cost and we charge between N7,000 and N10,000.

I am not sure of the amount. It is the instrument of proof of ownership.

It is either you have the original bill of lading or you have it (PIN release) because there must be proof of ownership of the cargo.

There must be proof that the cargo was properly cleared from the port of origin and that it was actually destined for someone.”

Meanwhile, an attempt to speak with officials of Grimaldi Shipping Company was not fruitful.

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