08 September 2014, Lagos – Stakeholders in the shipping industry have commended the management of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) for some of the regulatory measures that have been introduced in the ports which are targeted at promoting trade facilitation and efficiency.
The Council had few weeks ago as part of its regulatory functions as the Ports Economic Regulator asked shipping companies to reduce some charges in the ports.
The charges were identified as Shipping Line Agency Charge (SLAC) and Container Cleaning which shipping companies were directed to reduce by 50 percent.
Shipping companies were also directed to begin to refund container deposits within 10 days after such containers had been returned to them.
The decision was taken during a meeting with the shipping companies who were given time to effect the changes.
Stakeholders who spoke to THISDAY weekend said such measures have justified the quest for a regulator in the ports system all these years.
Describing the moves as a good development, the stakeholders called on the Ports Regulator to ensure that the affected shipping companies comply with the directive.
A frontline freight forwarder, Adedeji Ogunlana who spoke to THISDAY, said such measures would check further introduction of frivolous charges against importers who have goods to clear at the ports.
Ogunlana who said that the shipping companies have been in the habit of collecting inappropriate charges, said that this was because there was nobody to check them, adding that with the Ports Regulator, the operators would retrace their steps.
He also said it was a signal to terminal operators, who have been collecting arbitrary demurrage even when it was not the fault of the importer that his goods could not be cleared on time.
Another freight forwarder, Onyebuchi Idoko, who also spoke to THISDAY on the issue said that the reduction of charges was long overdue, adding that multinational shipping agencies have been in the habit of defrauding Nigerians.
Idoko said that with the Ports Regulator, he was sure that such problem would be checked.
He commended the Executive Secretary of Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, for the moves made so far to sanitise the ports industry by his Council.
Idoko said that he was sure that Bello as a lawyer would never want Nigerian importers to be defrauded, adding that so far, his Council has done well since its appointment as a regulator.
He commended the Council for all the efforts so far made to check the excesses of both shipping companies and terminal operators, adding that over the years, the service providers have had a field day imposing illegal charges on importers.
Idoko said that with the Ports Regulator, such experience would be checked.
On the time given the shipping companies to refund container deposits, he said that many importers have lost their money with the operators.
“Some importers had to abandon the money after several attempts. But now that they have been given time to refund the deposit after the return of the empty containers, things will change. That is why I am happy with the Regulator for such efforts, because billions of Naira deposits belonging to importers are with some of these shipping companies”, he said.
– This Day