The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has accused shipping companies and terminal operators of sabotaging the Nigerian economy by charging fees that are unjustifiable thereby increasing the cost of doing business at the nation’s ports in favour of other countries.
National President of ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu stated this when the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman paid a courtesy visit to the association in Lagos.
Shittu said shipping companies and terminal operators have increased charges claiming that the NPA has increased its due.
Some of the charges, he stated, include; shipping due departing charges, facility charge and others.
According to him, “There is also the sea protection levy that is also being charged by the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). At the end these charges are transferred to the consumer, making life unbearable for them.
“Shipping companies and terminal operators are reaping us off charging all manners of fees. They believe Nigeria is big and they can get all the money they want from the country to service other West African region. We have it on good authority that what shipping companies get from Nigeria that they rely on for survival because of the next to nothing charges they get from other countries in Africa.
“Again the demurrage they are charging in Nigeria they don’t have the facility to support it, they are required to have holding bays they don’t have. It does not matter if the fault is theirs or not you are still charged demurrage. Their charge is the cause of the high cost of doing business at the port and this is affecting the Nigerian economy,” the ANLCA boss said.
The association also urged the NPA to consider illuminating the ports so that cargoes can be cleared at night.
ANLCA also accused the NPA security personnel of aiding touts and beggars at the port while denying their members entrance to the port.
“We were asked to get gate pass and we have complied. Severally, I have had to go to the gate to intervene when the BPA official are harassing our members who have genuine gate passes whereas beggars and touts are allowed to move freely within and outside the port premises . I want you to take it into consideration and put an end to this anomaly,” he said.
In her response, Bala Usman pledged that the NPA would interact more with stakeholders in 2017 “so as to be more in tune with happenings at the various ports.”
She said the NPA has commissioned a study on port charges in West Africa in a bid to revive activity at the Nigerian ports.
To this end, she revealed that the NPA will introduce quarterly stakeholders meetings to know what is on ground at the ports and be better informed on the plight of operators.
She said the essence of her visit was to interact directly with critical stakeholders to discuss issues burning on the minds of the stakeholders and to seek collaborations on how to solve some of the challenges.
The MD also acknowledged that the need to block revenue leakages make the ports more competitive in the area of appropriate pricing.
She also said there is the need for government to look at corruption at the ports and how to plug the leakages.
“I am sure that not all of you are aware that I am a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption. The committee, in 2017 is coming to domicile an office in the NPA on implementing a report that was submitted by the ICPC on the corruption index in ports administration, we shall embark strongly on anti-corruption measures in 2017.”