09 November 2016, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, PHCCIMA, has lamented what it described as huge disparity on cargo charges between Lagos and eastern ports, especially the Port Harcourt seaports.
PHCCIMA President, Dr. Emi Membere Otaji, who wondered why charges at Port Harcourt seaports would cost more than Lagos, said the high cargo charges was taking businesses away from Port Harcourt.
Otaji particularly pointed out the persistence inaction on the part of the port regulators concerning disparity in rates and charges between the Lagos ports and the eastern ports, describing it as a challenge.
He said call for effort to resolve the problem has become necessary because virtually all the importers from Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt and environs now pass their goods through Lagos which is not supposed to be so.
“We agree we have the Onne port managed by Intels and is acclaimed as one of the biggest oil and gas free zones in the world, but the Onne port is strictly focused on oil and gas-related cargo, and their charges are astronomically high; even non-oil cargo are charged as if they are oil-related and this is not good for business in this era of economic diversification.
“What we don’t understand is why cargo passing through Port Harcourt ports will cost more than Lagos? This high rate is taking businesses away from Port Harcourt. Most business cargo are now going through Lagos and they are killing the ports in the east,” he said.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigeria Shippers Council, as regulators, should strive to bring down their prices so that the likes of Intels Limited will follow suit.
“They must acknowledge that payments for non-oil cargo should not be tagged along like an oil cargo. So basically Port Harcourt Chamber is engaging across board from the various levels of government, Ministry of Transport, agencies and Intels Limited to see how we can work closely to revive the Port Harcourt ports,” he added.