Ports Charges: Operators commended for discontinuing suit against shippers’ council

09 November 2015, Lagos – Stakeholders in the maritime industry have applauded the decision of some terminal operators to withdraw from the suit between the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) over shipping charges.

ship-carrying-containers-at-the-Apapa-Port-Lagos-360x241The terminal operators, Apapa  Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), a subsidiary of Flour Mills  and Greenview Development Terminal (GDNL), who are members of STOAN  have indicated their intention to withdraw from the court action.

Already, Greenview Development Terminal (GDNL),   a subsidiary of Dangote group was said to have made its intention known to the court, while Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited has also indicated plan to withdraw as an interested party in the suit.

The two firms were said to be against the court action because their proprietors, who are shippers are  affected by shipping   charges  at the ports.

The firms contended that being part of the legal tussle   against the Council   would mean fighting against the interest of their proprietors.

Maritime lawyer and Deputy President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Mr. Fred Akohkia, who spoke on the issue, said it was a good development for the industry.

Akokhia said that it was within the constitutional right of the two companies to withdraw from the case, adding that they must have seen reasons that prompted them to take such decision.

He explained that in such a case, it was within the prerogative of those involved to decide whether to be part of it or withdraw for reasons they consider best.

The maritime lawyer said that what this means is that the association now has a divided house with the  position of the two companies  on the matter.

National President of National Council of Managing Director of Customs Agents (NCMDCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero, who  spoke on the issue applauded the two companies for their decision, adding that they must have looked at the implications of the case.

Amiwero called on other terminal operators who are opposed to the case to have a second look at the issues involved critically and    follow the path of the  two companies.

STOAN and Association of Shipping Lines Agencies (ASLA) are in court over the decision of the Ports Regulator to reduce some charges it described as arbitrary. The matter, which is currently at the Appeal Court is slated for hearing on February 4, 2016.

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