Freight forwarders in the nation’s maritime industry have lampooned the Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML) and the Five Star Logistics Terminal for the recent increase in their tariff.
The terminal operators had increased terminal tariff recently while blaming the increase on inflation for the 50% increment.
However, reacting, freight forwarders lampooned the terminal operators for not consulting the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) before issuing out the notice of increment.
In a chat with our correspondent, Mr. Segun Alabi, President Advocacy for Maritime Developments Association of Nigeria (AMDAN) lampooned the terminals for increasing the charges without getting the approval of the NSC, who is the economic regulator of the port.
He stated that the increment, if at all justifiable, came at the wrong time, owing to the high cost of cargo clearance and the several bottlenecks involved in cargo clearance.
He added that the terminal operators ought to have dialogued with the freight forwarders and the Shippers Council before increasing the tariff.
According to him, “the increment came at the wrong time, even though there is every justification to increase the price, they may have justification for that, but the timing is wrong, this is a very wrong time to increase cost before now we were crying about inability to access the port, traffic and all that, we still have trucks lying to access the port and now this is what we want to battle again”.
Lamenting further, he said, “it’s typical of this shipping companies and terminal operators to increase charges without recourse to the economic regulator. I have personally written a letter to the Executive Secretary of Shippers Council, they ought to have tabled their course before the economic regulator; they ought to have been invited to a round table discussion about the increment before issuing out the notice, but it’s unfortunate”, he said.
Also speaking, Pius Ujubuonu a former special adviser to the ANLCA Immediate past President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, blamed the NSC and the NPA for not being at the top of their game, while also blaming the in-fighting in the various freight forwarding associations for the reasons behind the terminal operators flagrant abuse of power.
“The port concessioning agreement stipulated very clearly that no service provider should make any increment without stakeholders’ engagement, including the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), so if they are doing that and NSC and NPA who are supposed to be the regulators are not saying anything, who are we to say anything. Majority of the problems in Nigeria is from the Nigerian government, the government is arbitrary on its own, so the trading public have no shoulder to cry on, nobody will protect them, unfortunately the associations are busy fighting themselves while the people are there exploiting them”, he said.
On his part Dr. Segun Musa, a maritime expert, also stated that the terminal operators ought to have been sensitive about the situation in the country before increasing their charges, stating that there must have been a mutual agreement between the stakeholders and the terminal operators before issuing the tariff increment notification.
“I may not say it is not justified, it is justified but the percentage is not justified. The terminal operators need to be very sensitive about the situation in the country presently, I expected them to allow the situation to stabilize before thinking of an increment.
“I would have expected them to know the way of encouraging importers and people that want to go into the business of importing rather than discouraging them.
“It is better when you have 500 regular cargoes and you make your income, than to have 5000 cargoes and make less. So I think the turnaround should be looked into. The increment should be negotiated with all the stakeholders; everybody must be on the same page”, he said.