Truck importers collide with Bunna Bank over payment refusal

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Five truck importers accuse Bunna Bank over refusal of commission reimbursement stemming from undelivered services as the complaints get forwarded in letter form to the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) for intervention on the matter. Bunna Bank now, in wait of NBE’s verdict which has taken up the case.
A year ago, five truck importers of the 168 companies which were authorized by the Ministry of Transport and Logistics to import trucks from the Jampur International FZE had struck deals with Bunna Bank and opened LC to facilitate the imports.
However, a couple of weeks ago the transport and logistics ministry announced the termination of 108 companies from the 168 that had been selected and given a loan guarantee to import 1,700 trucks citing they didn’t follow through with the stipulated timelines. However following the resentments of the companies, the ministry leniently gave a one month timeframe for things to be set in order which will end on January 14, 2023.
The lack of Ethiopian banks that run credit line facilities with the Africa import export bank (Afrexim Bank) was mentioned as one of the reasons since it was a requirement of the supplier to have Ethiopian banks have at least two years of credit facility with Afrexim.
As the importers highlight, “Bunna knowing that they didn’t have this credit facility line nevertheless accepted our request.”
When the five importers requested to shift to another bank and have their money refunded a whole new can of worms was unleashed following Bunna’s refusal.
“However, the bank refused to repay commission fees collected to provide the service while refunding only the down payment,” said Melaku Abebaw CEO of Melaku Abebaw Private Fuel transporter and one of the complainants processing to import eight fuel trucks with LC opened with a value of USD 751,680. Melaku further pointed out that the five businesses had paid about 19 percent of the total amount to open LC worth 3 million dollars.
According to the letter that the importers sent to the bank, the details expressed that as Afrexim bank didn’t approve LCs opened from Bunna Bank, thus a refund request of all costs the bank has charged them with including commissions paid to the bank and NBE was in order.
However, following the refusal of the bank to refund the five importers, they penned a letter to NBE and transport and logistics Ministry for intervention.
“We will sue the bank if it is necessary,” said Melaku.
As sources from the Bank disclose, since the case has reached to the governing body, NBE, Bunna will wait for the decision of NBE so as to solve the issue.
Asmamaw Melese Local Inland Freight Private Transport, Shikur Abder Local Inland Freight Private Transports, Adane Belay Fuel Transport PLC, Melaku Abebaw Private Fuel Transporter, Alamre Ayenew Import and Export are the five companies to file complaints.
Two years ago with advice of the macroeconomic committee, NBE provided the opportunity to purchase more vehicles by interested and capable companies who were selected by the transport and logistics ministry. Following the issuance of a bid, 168 companies vied to buy 3200 freight trucks with a credit facility from the local banks and the ministry thus gave loan guarantees from the Afrexim bank.
For the procurement of the trucks, a tender was then floated on January 12, 2021. The trucks were expected to be delivered to the country within 60 to 120 days, and had to meet the specifications outlined in the bid document including the payload and carrying capacity.
As it would later turn out, the trucks being expected to be imported within four months as per the agreement were not to materialize owing to companies not following through with the stipulated timelines.
The procurement was initially set to ease problems in the logistics sector brought on by a shortage of trucks. With the initiative, the private sector was geared to procure the trucks through a supply credit modality approved by the National Logistics Council. The companies were to raise a 30pc of the value, while the remaining was to be covered by a loan secured through the central bank’s guarantee.
All in all, shortage of trucks in the country is one of the logistics nightmares. As officials said the multi challenging conflict in the northern part has left or destroyed vehicles making the problem worse.
Jampur International FZE, Sino Truk international, FOTON intre. Trade co ltd china, Renault trucks SAS. Shacman heavy duty automobile import and export are some of the suppliers, in the Ethiopian truck market scene.