Swedish’s Club correspondents, ETIC Sas and Africa P&I Togo, provided the Club with the latest information on hefty fines for maritime infringement in Lomé. Recent developments in Lomé have expanded the role of customs authorities, particularly concerning maritime infringements, which were previously handled by the Maritime Police.
s explained, the Customs Authorities now have the power to impose significant fines, often exceeding one hundred million Euros, and may detain vessels until fines are settled. It’s crucial for ship crews to strictly adhere to regulations, refrain from engaging in any illicit trade with local fishermen, and rely solely on the ship’s agent for purchases or needs while at anchorage in Lome, Togo.
Following the recent developments in Lome, regarding the Customs Authorities’ practice, we would like to raise your concern and crew members’ concern in ensuring that they always go through the ship’s agent for any specific needs or purchases. They should especially not trade anything with local fishermen on small pirogues coming alongside their vessels while at anchorage.
The Togolese Customs code is wide enough to enable the Customs Authorities to impose HUGE fines on the vessel whenever she or her crew are prosecuted for a maritime infringement.
The general climate is a zero-tolerance policy and any vessel involved in any sort of prohibited trade will be systematically fined. This zero-tolerance policy also seems to apply even to Togolese Nationals who are prosecuted and remain in custody until the trial takes place. We are speaking here of offences that the crew may consider minor, such as trading some cargo on board against fresh fish from local fishermen while the vessel is at anchorage, or a few litters of gasoil against food.
For the last month, the customs authorities have fined at least 3 vessels for such infringements. Each time, the amount of the fine is calculated on the basis of the seized objects which includes the vessel. Based on the vessel’s value and other objects seized, the amount of the fine includes additional percentage of taxes and other which gives a figure multiplied by 4 to value the final amount fined.