As part of efforts to finding lasting solution to cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports and vessel diversion to neighbouring countries, Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN) is set to hold a summit on port charges.
In a statement, the President of the group, Yusuf Babalola, said that the summit which is slated for March 15, 2018 in Lagos, will seek solutions to the myriads of challenges confronting shippers, terminal operators, clearing agents, importers, port regulators and other stakeholders operating in the nation’s maritime sector.
According to Babalola, the summit is borne out of a series of complaints by operators, regulators, shippers, clearing agents among other stakeholders in the shipping industry over exorbitant charges.
“Stakeholders have regretted that the port sector is already sagging in the absence of appropriate pricing, billing inaccuracy, unfriendly port environment and cargo insecurity.
“The association therefore decided to hold a summit to address the various issues confronting shippers, terminal operators, clearing agents, regulators and other stakeholders especially charges that have stunted the growth of the sector since port concessioning of 2006.
However, concessionaires should not be solely blamed for exorbitant charges at ports even when we know they are also experiencing hard times due to high exchange rate, dilapidated port infrastructure, inability to connect the port to the national grid and collapsed access roads. There is need to strike a balance to make Nigeria a hub in West and Central African sub-region.
“Also, charges in the port sector are not limited to terminal operators and shipping companies’ alone. There are also customs duties, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s dues, Nigerian Ports Authority’ pilotage dues, charges by Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) charges among other agencies operating in the port system,” he said.
Babalola further stated that the objective of the summit is to make Nigerian seaports attractive to cargoes, investors, making it the hub of shipping activities, to open the port sector for jobs, eliminating corruption and illegal charges at the various seaports.
He added that making Nigerian ports most friendly in Africa by promoting import and export trade will grow Nigerian economy and also make it attractive to investors.
“It is observed that about 90 percent of vessels berthing at Benin,Togo,Ghana and other neighbouring ports their cargoes destined for Nigerian market but inability to get our charges right have made Nigeria lost the traffic to smaller ports in West Africa but the summit is set to address this by making Nigerian ports sought after in West and Central Africa.”