By Steve Agbota
The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) has said that shippers, importers and exporters lost over N2.8 trillion to unfavourable Federal Government’s policies on import and export procedures in 2020.
The association has also expressed fear that more industries might close down this year due to their inability to recieve raw materials when needed as a result of trucks’ finding it difficult to access the ports and additional demurrage raised against the shippers.
SALS President, Jonathan Nicol, stated this in his overview of the maritime sector for 2020, a copy of which was made available to Daily Sun. He lamented that major investors have left the nation’s seaports to other countries because their investments could not be protected.
“Other African countries are glad to accommodate us, the traders, in their countries. They deliberately reduce their Customs duty and tarrifs to encourage trade. Why can’t we do the same in Nigeria?
“The Customs External Tariff (CET) has not been favourable to our country. It is one of the reasons the border was shut. The overall total of shippers’ loss, forceful duty payments, demurrages and storage charges from shipping and terminal operators and traffic menace put together is over N2.8 trillion on an average. If you remove N1.2 trillion for Customs, the balance N1.6 trillion is a drop in an ocean of endless debts,” he added.
However, he called on Federal Government to restructure the import policies, and called for the review of the ports concession agreement to contain reliefs for cargo owners, adding that many goods would be abandoned due to inability of importers to clear their cargo as cost of clearing is more than the value of goods at the seaports.
According to him, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been very proactive in the cause of cost reduction but couldn’t do much as practitioners flouted regulations and implementation of the rules.
“Therefore, our judiciary should be restructured completely and place maritime cases as priority to political matters. It is from this sector the government gets money to fund politics. Politics is blind and soulless. Our maritime sector is becoming blind and soulless,” he maintained.
He lamented that many export cargo were detained especially the exports from Minna Export Shippers Association for reasons beyond the exporters due to unworkable Federal Government import and Export Adjustments policies.