Shippers Declare Support For Controversial Shippers' Council Registration Fee

Nigerian shippers under the aegis of Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) have declared support for the Nigerian Shippers’ Council over plans to start registering port users and collection of registration fees.

President of SALS in an exclusive chat with Shipping Position Daily last week said shippers, unlike other stakeholders are solidly behind the Council in collecting the fees, arguing that it would further help it in carrying out its role as the port economic regulator.

He said Nigerian Shippers’ Council is the only agency that does not collect any fees at the port.

Nicole said there was need for government to scrap some charges being collected by other agencies which add no value to port operations or the users.

One of such charges he noted was the N210,000 allegedly being charged by the Nigeria Customs Service from licensed customs agents as renewal of operational licenses.

After the recent stakeholders meeting in Lagos where the Shippers’ Council announced its intention to commence collection of registration fee, many operators have kicked against it.

The Council's Director of Legal Services, Samuel Vongtau however argued that money would be paid by clearing agents, shipping companies, indigenous shippers, Inland container operators, terminal operators, off-dock terminal operators, among others and that it would help the council weed out touts and quacks from the industry

But, speaking with our correspondent, SALS President, Jonathan Nicole said: "If you look at the maintenance of the port system, Shippers’ Council has been the only non-revenue generating outfit, and now they want to become an economic regulator, I understand they are going to be private-driven, so they have to make sure that they sustain the tempo of being a regulator, they have to raise funds to meet up with their obligations"

"Registering port operators is one of those things that would help to build their revenue base, I must say that we are port users and all of these structures are supposed to be in place before you can now say you are a maritime nation"

"We have had so many regulators in the port system and it is affecting us now because of the outlet of funds from the pockets of shippers is so much”, he added.

While harping on the importance of collecting the registration fees, Nicole said it would be a disaster if the port economic regulator is compromising with other port users to generate funds to run their affairs.

"We did not reject this because we feel it is something we can manage, but one thing we reject is having too many regulators in the system; we expect some regulators to withdraw their services because the Nigerian Shippers Council would be doing exactly what other regulators are doing", he argued.

The SALS President argued that the Nigeria Customs is collecting N210,000 from freight forwarders for renewal of operational license, meanwhile the business is not there to recoup their money, according to him, this pushes some of the agents into doing terrible things.

He stressed the need for customs to bring down the cost of license renewal.

According to him, other agencies whose charges at the port are unnecessary are; NIMASA, NPA, NEPC, NAFDAC, SON among others collecting one money or the other under the guise of regulation.