30 October 2014, Lagos – The Nigeria Shippers Council has issued a notice to terminal operators and shipping companies, directing a downward review of their charges.
The council was appointed nine months ago by the Federal Government as an economic regulator of the maritime industry.
The review which is expected to take effect from November 3, 2014, is said to affect the progressive storage charge, free storage period, shipping line agency charge, container cleaning and maintenance fee and container demurrage.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, confirmed the development in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.
He said the decision was arrived at after several meetings and consultations with the terminal operators and shipping companies.
He said, “We were all in agreement with this decision. The cost of doing business at our ports is very high compared to our competitors. Once we remove these charges, we would attract more cargo to our ports.
“Terminal operators are to revert the storage charge to that which was approved as far back as May 1, 2009. That was when the last approval was given. But they unilaterally increased the charge; now, they have to revert.
“The free storage period that is the period before you are charged for storage or demurrage has been increased from three days to seven days. We have also told the terminal operators that the seven days free period will take effect from the time when the container is discharged from the ship. The free period formerly took effect even when the ship had not discharged the container. This is in line with what is happening in the region and in the world all over.”
Bello added that shipping companies were required to reduce the shipping line agency charge. For a 20 feet container, the shipping line agency charge was reduced from N26,500 to N23,850. For a 40-feet container, it was reduced from N48,000 to N40,000. Shipping agencies were also directed to refund container deposits to importers and agents within 10 working days after the return of the empty containers.
He said, “There is a container cleaning and maintenance fee, which shipping companies charge about N2,500; it has been reduced to N1,500. The free period before which container demurrage is charged has been increased from five days to 10 days.
“This is just the beginning of the revolution, we want to drive down cost and have efficient ports. We equally want to stop arbitrariness in tariff increase, and to eliminate unnecessary charges.”
The President, Lagos State Shippers Association, Mr. Jonathan Nicol, described the development as a welcome one.
He said, “This has been a contentious issue for us and we thought that the issue of reducing charges would be a difficult one. This is a welcome beginning and we do appreciate the efforts of the council.”
– The Punch