Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been berated for its ineffectiveness in the discharge of its assigned responsibilities as the Port Regulator in the face of rising port operational charges especially with the recent introduction of Port Additional Destination (PAD) by shipping companies operating in Lagos ports.
Speaking to PortNews in an exclusive interview in Lagos recently, Mr. Pius Ujubuonu, Senior Special Assistant to National President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, said with the introduction of PAD Nigerian ports have now been labeled as the most costly ports in the West and Central African subregion of the continent.
He said shipping and terminal operators wilful wilfully increase or add to the long list of charges without consulting with either the government or key stakeholders such as importers and customs agents while the Shippers Council watch helplessly or feign outright ignorance.
The introduction of the new charge – PAD – was said to have caught many major stakeholders particularly customs agents unawares. According to information, they were never informed or briefed before the shipping companies came up with the PAD which has invariably increased the costs of cargo clearance in the Nigerian shipping industry.
Notable among the shipping companies that are said to have commenced the collection of PAD is CMA CGM.
Ujubuonu said that shipping companies cannot at will introduce or initiate new charges contrary to the international practice of document charges and without consulting the government.
He noted that PAD with other contentious charges like Shipping Line Agency Charge (SLAC), which he said their collection had been stopped in Ghana, cleaning charge and others have jerked up the cost of clearing cargo in the ports.
He said for shipping companies to initiate PAD and commence collection and no government agency – Nigerian Shippers Council, a port regulator, querying its legality or otherwise meant that government had given them approval to do so.
“Government is the cause of the problems in the industry. Shipping companies could not just wake up and introduce a new charge without the consent of the government or its agency – the Nigerian Shippers Council,” he lamented.
On the position of ANLCA on the new charge, Ujubuonu said that ANLCA was never consulted, noting that the association as a pressure group that should deal with this situation would not be embarking on a move that would be to alleviate the plight of customs agents while other associations would thwart it.
He said the multiplicity of associations in the industry and failure of the government to recognise ANLCA as a major stakeholder like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and others in its policy making have made it difficult for ANLCA to confront such a challenge as this.
Ujubuonu informed that the leadership of the association are working vigorously to earn recognition for the association on the side of the government, adding that ANLCA would leverage on the exploits of its members who are in political positions in the country, to reposition and prepare it for a greater leadership role in the nation’s economy particularly in the maritime industry.