The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and many stakeholders on Wednesday, took a bold step to protest indiscriminate charges imposed by the multinational shipping firms.
The shipping lines have allegedly continued to slam huge surcharge on Nigeria-bound cargoes.
At a meeting organized by the NSC in Lagos which was attended by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) freight forwarders and the Nigerian shipping community, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello said that the peak period charge is over 400% increase from the previous charge.
Bello however reiterated the need for an immediate withdrawal of the charges, adding that it is not what the economy of the country can bear.
He however said that if they all come together and with the support of the government they will be able to reduce the damages.
"That is, immediate withdrawal is what we are asking for and then other negotiations. But to spike it to 400% increase is not something that any economy can bear"
"The 2020 peak period charges of between $1000 and $1,500 per 20-foot equivalent unit(TEU) by shipping firms, is over 400 percent increase from the previous $200 freight charge per TEU during peak period"
"And if we all come together and make it an African thing and with the government supporting this, we will be able to minimize the damages.
"The charge is scary, if a Nigeria-bound container is charged as much as $1000, then the national economy is in trouble.
He expressed worry that the surcharge was introduced at a time when the nation is slammed with such charges"
Explaining further, Bello lamented that the charges would lead to spiral inflation rate on the economy and may also lead to abandonment of cargoes at the terminals.
"Spiral inflation rate on the economy; cargoes will be abandoned at the ports; it means job losses and many shippers will be put of business,"
According to him, "the charges are astronomic, unjustified, and discriminatory, this is against fair trade facilitation rules"
The NSC boss that the agency has written to the shipping firms and is waiting for responses accordingly.
"We have also written to the Ministry of Transportation to escalate it to the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Federal Government will protest the charges"
"We have been having surcharge in the range of $200 to $400, but 400 per cent increase and there was no time limit. Its already going to nine months is not what any economy can cope with. This can cripple the economy," Bello said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman expressed disappointment about the charges, saying that it might result to more cargoes being abandoned at the ports.
Usman, who was represented by the General Manager, Tariff and Billings, Abubakar Garba Umar, said, "If the importers are charged so high and they abandoned them in the port, NPA will lose revenue and it would reduce efficiency and turnaround of ships to Nigerian port,"
Also, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, he said the industries would resist the charges because this is not the best of time for businesses generally.
Also speaking, Mr Olufemi Immanuel of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said it is a capital no to the surcharge because it is coming at a time when manufacturers are working with less staff, less raw material and lower profit.
He said, "The price of goods will skyrocket and cost of transports will be unbearable"
A representative of Nigeria Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Margaret Orakwusi, said the surcharge would affect commerce critically.
"Our members borrowed huge money to import items and they are slammed this huge amount, then it would affect the banks too," he said.
Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, urged a collaboration with ECOWAS on the arbitrary charges.
"It will affect our economy seriously because the Nigeria is an imports dependent economy," he said.
President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, said the peak season surcharge is unacceptable., saying that the new normal does not give room for acceptability of such charges.
The six companies involved are: Cosco, Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd and Evergreen shipping.