Senate Probes Exorbitant Shipping Fees At Ports

The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to engage stakeholders in the shipping industry and the Nigeria Port Authority, with a view to curbing the exorbitant increase in shipping fees in the country.

The resolution was sequel to a motion titled: ‘The exorbitant increase and unjustifiable shipping fees charged by shipping companies on Nigeria bound cargoes’ sponsored on Wednesday by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, during plenary.

Presenting the motion, Ubah noted that ‘Nigeria is an import-driven economy with excessive dependence on imports for consumption and capital goods’.

He said the shipping sector was key to facilitating the continuity of economic activities in the country.

Uba also said it would ensure supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods, including energy and food supplies, and transportation of vital medical and protective equipment in Nigeria.

He said, “The vessels coming to Nigerian ports queue longer when compared to other countries (30 days) before bathing at our ports due to various charges.

“The cost of shipping goods into Nigerian ports is among the highest in the world with the figure for Apapa Port costing more than thrice of that to Tema, Ghana and five times higher than that of Durban, South Africa.”

Ubah listed charges in other countries as $3,200 from China to Ghana, $3,000 to Cotonou and from $3,200 to $8,500 few months ago to Nigeria.

He said the development had caused unjust hardship to Nigerians as importers transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers.

He recalled that in May 2017, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was acting president then, signed an Executive Order directing 24-hour operations at the Apapa Port and outlawing unofficial charges at the ports.

He warned that the development could cause a spiral inflation rate on the nation’s economy if urgent action was not taken by the government.

Ubah therefore asked the Senate to quickly wade into the matter with a view to proffering urgent solution to the matter.