House Committee directs NPA, NIMASA, to clarify forex charges

The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Review of Pump Price of Petrol last week, directed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to clarify their charges in foreign currency.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Raphael Igbokwe, gave the directive during the Committee’s visit to NPA and NIMASA headquarters in Lagos asking, representatives of both organisations to be present at the Executive briefing in Abuja for clarification.

The guest for clarification followed complaints by operators of wet cargo of their inability to access dollars, leading to deals which have multiple effects on petroleum products pricing.

According to Igbokwe, NPA and NIMASA need to justify why most of their charges are in dollars.

NPA charges are: lease and vessel fees; payment for cargo and shipping dues; payment for provisional bill and concession fees; and payment for pilotage and royalties, while NIMASA charges three per cent freight bench mark.

Igbokwe said that among the challenges faced by the shipping companies was that Nigerian waters were not deep enough to accommodate bigger vessels, which are diverted outside the country

He said the inability of NPA to create room for mother vessels to berth petroleum products had lead to midstream discharge, illegal bunkering and malpractices, which provided opportunities for some operators to be short-change the government.

“There is need for NIMASA to improve on security of Nigerian waterways to enable more vessels and bigger ones to berth at the port,’’ Igbokwe said.

He argued that if bigger vessels containing petroleum products berth at the ports, if would stop operators of ship- to-ship discharge; from discharging in accurate quantity to the supplier or marketers in the supply chain.

“We are looking at NIMASA and NPA to reconcile some charges they made in dollars; to stop the increase in price of dollars as well as offshore discharge.