Uba urges Senate to checkmate ‘unjustifiable’ fees charged by shipping companies

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Uba urges Senate to checkmate 'unjustifiable' fees charged by shipping companies

Ifeanyi Uba, the senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District has moved a motion at the floor of the senate on the urgent need to checkmate the exorbitant increase and unjustifiable shipping fees charged by shipping companies on Nigerian bound cargoes particularly containers.

Uba noted that Nigeria is an import driven economy with excessive dependence on imports for consumption and capital goods.

He further highlighted the fact that the shipping sector is key in facilitating the continuity of economic activities, ensuring supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods, including energy and food supplies as well as transportation of vital medical and protective equipment in Nigeria.

He, however, expressed concerns over the fact that vessels coming to Nigeria ports queue longer when compared to other countries (30 days) before berthing at the nation’s ports due to various charges.

He raised further concern regarding the fact that the cost of shipping goods into Nigerian ports is amongst 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.

He expressed worry that a report on overseas cargo and freight costs by Mover DB; an online resource for international shipping shows that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos is among the most expensive globally.

The report covers the shipping costs from 47 ports globally; these astronomic and unjustifiable charges are so high that importers in most cases abandon their cargoes in the port thereby making the NPA lose revenue, hence reducing the efficiency/turnaround of ships to Nigerian ports.

A close look at charges in other countries shows;- Ghana – $3,200 from China, Cotonou – $3,000 from China, Nigeria – $8,500 from $3,200 few months ago.

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He further opined that this has caused unjust hardship for Nigerians as importers transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers.

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

This order, according to him, was aimed at improving the ease of doing business and reducing the high costs at the ports. But available statistics suggest that these unjustifiable charges and extortion by shipping agencies have continued to date.

Uba noted that the imposition of these exorbitant charges on Nigerian bound cargoes by shipping companies was introduced at a time when the nation is still trying to get out of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He expressed worry that the arbitrary introduction of excessive shipping charges will strangulate Nigerian importers, and if the country does not rise up and defend itself from the economic sabotage, this development can cause a spiral inflation rate in the economy.

The Senate accordingly resolved to mandate the Committee on Marine Transport to engage with the stakeholders in the Shipping Industry and Nigeria Ports Authority with a view to proffering solutions to this matter.