The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) has commended the Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) for its role in ensuring increase in revenue collected by the Customs despite the tough economic trials ocassioned by the plummeting global crude oil price.
Hammed Ali made this remark in his address at the 2016 National Shippers Day celebration, a 2-day event which held at Rockview Hotels in Apapa. He promised Shippers that Customs would continue its reforms to save time and reduce the cost of operations in the ports.
The CGC who was represented by the Assitant Comptroller-General and Zonal Coordinator Zone ‘A’, Charles Edike noted that without the members of SALS, there would be no cargo at the port and customs revenue will be in jeopardy.
“There was a lull in importation, but even at that the revenue is increasing and this is because of your good works. If shippers do not carry the cargo, there is nothing for customs to collect revenue from, I know there are challenges and things may be hard today but tomorrow it will be better, continue and hold on” He said.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr. Hassan Bello charged SALS members to endeavor to engage themselves in exportation, especially non-oil exports.
Hassan Bello who was represented by Mrs Okam Ada, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Department of the Council, disclosed that 27 Shippers associations have been established across the country and the associations are formidable bodies for cargo protection.
“The Council is still committed to protecting the cargo interest of Nigeria and also enjoined you to remain compliant to both national and international rules guiding global trade practices. Shippers should endeavor to channel efforts into exportation of value adding non-oil exports to generate revenue”
Rev. Jonathan Nicol, the president of SALS, said the theme of this year’s celebration “Approaching a New Dawn in the Maritime Sector.” is the beginning of the process to get rid of poverty from Nigeria’s port system.
“We have made so much sacrifice for the sustenance of our country and we need the government to realoze that everyone in Nigeria deserves to be wealthy and our goal is to remove poverty from the system”
Nicol said this event marks the beginning of the Amalgamation of a very viral Maritime Institution that will eventually metamorphose into the Federation of Shippers’ Association in Nigeria (FONSA).
Nicol said that Shippers Association which established seventeen years ago across Nigeria must come together and fight the economic challenges of the country.
“With a powerful institution such as FONSA, Nigeria will dominate the Maritime Industry and even surprise our Trade partners. The period of isolation is gone. Now cooperative and coordination will save us with the massive changes ahead of us. Our Government will be happy to have such well coordinated institutions behind it” he said
Nicol called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to extend some leverage to the operators in the Maritime Sector as well as to improve on existing facilities, remove the dead infrastructures and give the well tested individuals in the Sector the opportunities to help in Nation building.
“We solicit for the resuscitation of the informal sector of cargo management. The informal sector will contribute as much as 45% of total cargo throughput”.
Also speaking at the event, a member of SALS and representative of Dangote Group, Capt. Phillip Olukotun lamented that the problem confronting shippers is the arbitrary charges that freight terminal operators collect.
“We in Dangote are the worst heated in this because of our massive importation of raw materials coming on the vessels and large quantity of containers for our refinery at Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Fertilizer factory also being built at Lekki Free Zone”
“Even the smallest shippers amongst our members are bearing the brunt of this arbitrary increase in charges. But what I always advise the association in my capacity is that we must speak in one voice” he said
Chief Eugene Nweke, the President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) advised the Shippers to come together and fight arbitrary charges by terminal operators.
“There are lots of charges that shippers are bearing that ought not to be. You are paying 7% port surcharge why is this so even when our ports are no longer under NPA? There are three other charges you are paying, swallowing it hook line and sinker” he said.
By Kenneth Jukpor