26 January 2015, Lagos – The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has urged importers and freight forwarders to compile all the illegal charges being collected by the terminal operators and shipping companies at the nation’s ports.
The Council also directed its Consumer Complaints Unit to visit all the ports with the aim of interacting with importers and customs brokers to obtain from them evidence of the illegal charges being collected by shipping companies and terminal operators.
The Council’s decision followed allegation that shipping service providers have been collecting those charges, which the Federal High Court, Ikoyi stopped them from collecting in the second week of December last year.
It was gathered that the notice to the various customs brokers and freight forwarders associations was to be able to gather enough evidence of the violation of the order of the court for necessary action.
The Council, it was gathered, plans to bring the full weight of the law against all those who disobeyed the court order.
The Council reasoned that when the time comes, all illegal charges collected by the affected shipping companies and terminal operators would be refunded.
Deputy Director, Public Relations, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Ignatius Nweke , explained that the Council would ensure that its decision as upheld by the court is carried out.
He said the Council will continue to protect the interest of the Nigerian shippers by making the operating environment conducive for business.
According to him, the Council wants to ensure that the economy is not allowed to suffer through the action of any group or individual.
He said that the Council was interested in ensuring that the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports is reduced for the good of the national economy.
The Council had carried out a study on what obtains in other neighbouring countries before coming out with its policy measure on some shipping charges in the ports.
President of Nigerian Shippers’ Association, Rev Jonathan Nicol argued that since the shipping companies and terminal operators applied to the court for ‘stay of execution of the order’ after the judgement, they ought to have waited until their application is granted.
The Federal High Court had upheld the decision of the Ports Regulator reducing the Progressive Storage Charge to the rate approved by the Transport Ministry in 2009 for the terminal operators.
The court also in dismissing the case brought against the ports regulator on the policy decision also upheld the reduction by 50 percent on shipping line agency charge and container cleaning and maintenance charge being collected by shipping companies.
Among the decisions by the Ports Regulator was to increased the Container Free Storage Period to seven days as against three days .
This was after carrying out a study in the neighbouring ports of Cotonou, Ghana, Gambia and Cameroun.
The Ports Economic Regulator equally increased Container Demurrage-free days to 10 days, in what stakeholders described as a policy decision in the right direction.
On the Container Deposit which importers and freight forwarders complained about, the Council directed that henceforth, this should be refunded within 10 days after the empties had been returned to the shipping companies.
– This Day