There are strong indications that indigenous importers may abandon the country’s seaports over excessive port charges.
This is despite the 50% reduction on the proposed registration fee by the Nigeria Shipper’s Council (NSC) on importers and other operators at the ports.
The council had in 2018 announced a downward review of the registration fees after it generated outcry from stakeholders.
The shippers under the auspices of the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) in a chat with newsmen last week, insisted that the port economic regulator should suspend any form of additional fees in the cargo clearance procedures from the ports.
It further called on the council to address issues confronting stakeholders in the ports in order to avoid any form of additional cost of doing business in the industry.
The Chief Operations Officer of the group, Prosper Okolo, stressed that importers may be forced to stop cargo importation through Nigerian ports.
He said: “If every agencies of government is collecting levy from the ports, the shippers will no longer import cargoes into the country. Top officials of the association have engaged the Central Bank of Nigeria over the arbitrary charges on importers by government agencies and the shipping lines operating in the country.”
Okolo is therefore calling for an urgent meeting between the council and shippers for further clarification. He lamented that the introduction of the fee will further add to the cost of cargo clearance from the ports.
A breakdown of the proposed fee released by NSC showed that shipping line agencies and terminal operators would now pay N50,000 per annum down from the initial N100,000; while inland container depot/dry port operators will pay N25,000 instead of N50,000.
Others are off dock terminal operators, cargo consolidators and shipping agency (non-vessel operating agency) that will pay N10,000 down from N20,000 while freight forwarders and clearing agents, haulage firms, stevedoring companies, cargo surveyors and shippers will now pay N5,000 instead of the N10,000 initially imposed by the NSC at the beginning of this year.
IMAN in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Kingsley Chikezie, called on the council for clarification of the fee in order for shippers to be guided appropriately.