The Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Kayode Farinto has indicted some government agencies in the maritime sector as responsible for hike in freight cost.
Some of the agencies the veteran freight forwarder indicted are; the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Navy.
According to him, these agencies’ drive to enhance revenue generation has led to duplication charges at the seaports, adding to the already high cost of importing into Nigeria.
Farinto blamed particularly NIMASA and NPA for duplicating charges collected from the shipping companies, which importers reflect the increase in the selling price of goods and services.
“NIMASA collects charges for Maritime Environmental and Management Protection Levy, which is the same with pollution charges collected by NPA. Shipping companies pay as much as $2000 per day at anchorage for security against pirates. It takes vessels close to 55 days at anchorage for a vessel going to APMT terminal, while it takes 25 days for vessels heading to TICT”, he lamented.
Farinto who also doubles as a board member of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) argued that he previously only identified shipping companies as the major problem but realized that NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and NPA are also responsible for the high costs in the maritime sector.
“I took my time to do my research and I noticed that NIMASA charges lots of money on a vessel via gross tonnage. This means that the bigger your vessel, the higher the money you pay to NIMASA and they have been collecting this in dollars”, he said.
He also opined that it wasn’t appropriate for NIMASA to be charging for Environmental Protection Levy while NPA collects levies for Pollution charges.
Noting that NIMASA also charges 3% freight on each container, about $100 for 20ft container and $200 dollars for 40ft container, he argued that these charges slammed by NIMASA has led to the country being a dumping ground for empty containers.
“Imagine that a shipping company has 500 containers on a vessel to pay $200 on each to just NIMASA. That’s $100,000. This is one of the reasons Nigeria is an empty containers dump site. A container cost about $10,000 to build abroad and the minimum freght is $2000. So, if a container goes five times in a year, it has covered the money used in buying it. Logically, no marketer would abandon his container here,” he said.
He, however, stated that the high charges slammed on shipping companies should not be a justification for their failure to provide holding bays for their empty containers.
“There are some shipping companies without holding bays in Nigeria. For example, assuming Maersk line brings in 5000 TEUs every month, do they have holding bays for 5000 empty containers? The answer is No. The problem has been either Maersk line or APMT. On the other hand, there may not be having much problem. If a vessel calls and on each container they charge N136,000 (container charges for Shipping Companies) and when you are unable to return their container, they start slamming charges on you that’s when you start depleting your deposit.”
On Secure Anchorage Area, he lamented that despite Ministerial and Senate directive to stop the practice, the private company, OML was still conducting the business and collecting charges for the responsibility that should be carried out by NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.
He called for an industry stakeholders’ summit to address these fiscal constraints plaguing the maritime sector.