Senate moves against exorbitant charges on goods by cargo companies

The Senate has moved a motion against the exorbitant increase and unjustifiable fees charged by shipping and cargo companies to Nigeria. DAILY POST reports that a motion to that effect was sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah (YPP, Anambra South) during plenary on Wednesday. In his presentation, Ubah noted that while Nigeria is an import-driven economy with excessive dependence on imports for consumption and capital goods, the shipping sector is key in facilitating the continuity of economic activities in Nigeria.

According to the lawmaker, “vessels coming to Nigeria Port queue longer when compared to other countries (30 days) before bathing at our Port due to various charges.” Uba also revealed that the cost of shipping goods into Nigerian Ports is amongst the highest in the world, with the figure for Apapa Port costing more than thrice of that to Tema, Ghana, and five times higher than that of Durban, South Africa. He expressed worry that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos is among the most expensive globally according report on overseas cargo and freight costs by Mover DB, an online resource for international shipping.

Ubah lamented that the unjustified charges are so high that importers in most cases abandon their cargoes in the Port. “A close look at charges in other countries shows fees charged by shipping/cargo companies from China: Ghana £3, 200 from China; Cotonou £3, 000 from China; and Nigeria £8, 500 from £3,200 a few months ago. “This has caused unjust hardship to Nigerians as Importers transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers,” he said.

He noted further that in May 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was Acting President at the time, signed an Executive Order directing 24-hour operations at the Apapa Port and outlawing unofficial charges at the Ports.

Ubah pointed that despite Osinbajo’s order aimed at improving the ease of doing business and reducing the costs at the Ports, statistics showed that these unjustifiable charges by shipping agencies and law enforcement officers at the Ports have continued till date.

He further revealed that the continuation of excessive shipping charges would strangulate Nigerian shippers and importers adding that the development is capable of causing a spiral inflation rate on the country’s economy if nothing is done.