Imported goods worth millions of naira belonging to hundreds of Igbo traders are allegedly seized by “the authorities and handling agencies” at the nation’s ports.
The traders under the umbrella of South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) have petitioned the National Assembly to come to their rescue to prevail on the authorities and handling agencies to release the seized consignments that had continued to attract dumorage before and since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown “which was not caused by the traders.”
In a Save-Our-Soul petition sent to the National Assembly which was cosigned by the President of the association, Chief Gozie Akudolu and his Secretary, Alex Okwudiri, the traders recounted that most of their members raised funds through bank loans and overdrafts and imported goods from Asia and Europe.
They said that some of the consignments arrived the ports shortly before and during the pandemic lockdown of the nation’s ports.
According to them, all their efforts to clear the consignments and take delivery of their goods during the lockdown proved abortive as the offices of the authorities and handling agencies at the ports were closed without anyone to attend to owners of the consignments and their clearing agents.
“The cargoes and consignments of our members were lying at the facilities of the handling companies at the ports all this period of pandemic lockdown while the interest on the loans and overdrafts with which the goods were imported were accumulating with the banks.
“The worst now came with the cargo handling companies that had, over these periods, shut down and refused services to our members, now demand dumorage for the consignments, ” the traders complained.
They are worried that the dumorage being demanded by the handling companies and agencies has continued to run into millions of naira to the extent of increasing the cost of the imported goods by over five hundred percent and also over eighty percent of the market value of the goods.
They lamented that if the National Assembly failed to intervene promptly to salvage the situation, the traders would incur huge financial looses and could not repay their bank loans and overdrafts.
The traders lamented that some of their members had already become hypertensive leading to other health challenges as a result of the siezed consignments since it is their only source of livelihood.
The South-East traders insisted that their members were being punished for the offence of the handling companies who shut their offices and services and never allowed the traders to take delivery of their goods in good time.