Strong indications have emerged that if the trending arbitrary 650 percent increase in port storage charges by terminal operators is not urgently reversed, freight forwarders operating at Lagos Ports will likely resort to enmasseprotest very soon and this can lead to tripling of abandoned/overtime containers.
While expressing great concern over the issue, National Coordinator, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100 % Complliance, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko disclosed this at Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) Round table held in Lagos, adding that the process at which the 650 percent increase charge came was cunny.
To him, ,”If you want to increase the charges, no one is against that, but you must do it in a proper way. You must do extensive consultations with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and the major associations involved. They should have met with all these bodies,and notify them reasons for the increase in charges. We are supposed to deliberate on it and agreed on the amount to be charged. They just woke up one morning and increased rent Charges to over 650 percent”.
“Before now, we were paying N1,200.00 and from that amount to over N96000.00 now. It is outrageous, it is killing!. It is totally unacceptable to us. The terminal operators are stifling trade and making life difficult for the average Nigerian, through their insensitive attitude.
He lamented over the outrageous charges incurred in the hands of Terminal operators, saying “The outrageous charges we incur in the hands of terminal operators are enormous. For instance, if you spend only 10 days in the terminal, you are going to pay not less than N96,000.00 to N1 million. When you capture, make declaration, you now go to bank to make payments. After that you come back again and book for examination. The examination you are booking for example at APMT, will take you nothing less than 3-4 days for the container to be dropped either for scanning or physical examination.”
Alhaji Tanko warned that if nothing is done to the obnoxious increment, there is possibility that the ports would be flooded with a lot of overtime containers
“Just few days ago, NPA was complaining about abandoned, overtime containers. They should be prepared to see more overtime containers,” he said.
Meanwhille, in addition to the terminal operators’ charges that seems to make business unbearable for the forwarders, they still battle with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on benchmarking of duty, which entails payment of N7.5 million per Container.
According to Alhaji Tanko, “After paying the N7.5million, they still get another alert for other payments and anything thing can be placed on the alert. The meaning is that after examination, you need to still go back for one thing or the other: it may be amendment or matters of disclosure. If care is not taken, you may spend additional 3- 5 days on examination alone.”
He further warned that the freight Forwarders would resort to the last option of total blockade of the Lagos ports by Monday , October 23, 2023, if the terminal operators fail to reverse the increment.
His words, “This is the time for war. We will face anybody who supports the increment.Wewill see the person as a sell- out”.
The National Coordinator however, expressed disappointment with the former Acting President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farintofor allegedly supporting the increment.
He said, “Dr Kayode Farinto is one person I have great respect for, but his input in this matter,I am highly disappointed with him. For him to come out openly and tell us that the terminal operators have right to increase charges to over 650 per cent without consultation,amnot sure that Farinto is still in this industry.”
He also accused the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, of connivance in the increment, demanding that NSC as the economic regulator of the ports, should clearly state their position on the matter arising.
“if the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not aware of the increment they should come out and tell us. We want to know wether they are with us or not or are with the foreigners who want to kill us,” he said.
On the issue of lifting import restrictions on 43 items, Hon.Tanko praised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the timely action, saying “the president has clearly identified our problem, and the impact of the policy would soon be seen in the economy.”