Following an unapproved increment in its terminal handling charges, Port and Terminal Operators (Nig) Limited, PTOL, has been called to order by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
PTOL was told that it’s arbitrary increase of charges without consultation with its landlord, the NPA and the Port Economic Regulator, NSC ran afoul of its lease agreement and government regulations.
A press release signed by the Head of Public Relations, NSC, Mrs. Rakiya Zubairu revealed that the terminal operator was queried at a meeting of NPA, NSC and PTOL which took place at the head office of NSC in Apapa, Lagos.
The meeting was convened by the Acting Executive Secretary of the NSC, Ms. Ifeoma Ezedinma who said such acts will attract sanctions as the Shippers’ Council, through public notices, visits and correspondences is always advising regulated service providers to obey the law.
Citing Clause 5:5 of the lease agreement between NPA and PTOL, Mrs. Ugo Madubuike, NPA’s General Manager, Monitoring and Regulatory Service, said the increase in charges was in contradiction of the Contractual Agreement.
The Clause 5:5 states “The lessee shall not make any increase in the operation rate unless agreed to in writing by the parties and any required persons or governmental authority has been obtained”.
NSC and NPA advised PTOL to present their proposed increasement for negotiation through official channels as soon as possible.
PTOL’s General Manager Macpherson Nwaukoni, apologized for the oversight while explaining that the action was taken due to losses the company has incurred in the course operations.
According to him, these losses occurred as a result of the import ban on certain items resulting in the company’s inability to meet it’s obligation to the Lessor, particularly the rental debt they owe to NPA.
He also stated that a comparison of PTOL’s rates with other terminals revealed that the company’s charges are much lower, making operations difficult and leading to tariff increment.
He appealed for leniency, explaining that PTOL had not increased charges in 16 years and was currently running at a loss.
The Director, Legal Services Department of NSC Mr. Tahir Idris advised PTOL to obtain documents on NSC’s Legal Framework in order to acquaint itself with the regulatory procedures of tariff increase and to also be guided to ensure they follow the right protocols.
Meanwhile, the NSC Director, Consumer Affairs, Chief Cajetan Agu insisted that the seaport terminal reverts back to their old rates until due process is followed.
He also stressed that the company’s action contravened the contracts they signed upon the lease, and as such they violated the Lessor contract and NSC Act