· NARTO, COMTUA missing at public presentation
By Kenneth Jukpor
In order to have comprehensive and standard haulage rates for road transport, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transport and presence of truckers, has proposed and adopted new haulage rates for truck haulage from major seaports to various destinations across the country.
The Council presented the new rates to stakeholders at conference on Tuesday last week, noting that the exercise was to establish a well-structured and standardized haulage rates and services for the road transport sector for stakeholders’ business plan and economic decision making.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello stressed that the rates were benchmarks still subject to negotiation.
According to him, one should be able to determine the cost of haulage before approaching the road transport owners.
“It gladdens my heart that there is some level empirical effort to establish the rates. We have the scientific efforts and the fixed costs. We have seen the inflationary trends and many other variables used to determine the cost of haulage. This is important if we want to achieve the ease of doing business and transparency. People can quote less than what is set, as long as they don’t exceed the upper limit. These would guide trade, e-commerce and the investors in the international scene” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director Road Transport and Mass Transit Administration, Dr Anthonia Ekpa expressed delight at the development, noting that the standard rates would also be useful for the operators to plan in the haulage business.
“With this, the transport owners know what it costs and can project the profit margins in the business from one State to another. It’s a very commendable thing that Shippers’ Council has done. We understand that it costs so much to move cargoes from one point of the country to another. So, this effort to set haulage cost is laudable” she said.
Noting that the state of the roads was one of the critical issues to affect the regulation of haulage rates, Ekpa revealed that the Federal Government was concerned about the issue as the government was encouraging Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and concessioning major roads to private persons and organizations.
Earlier, Bello had noted that the Council would also have to apply certain sanctions for those who would exceed the set limit, adding that the Council was also looking to ensure the sector adopts insurance.
“I’m happy that we have a Director from the Ministry of Transportation who would Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has set comprehensive haulage rates for all road regulated transport sector to the economy and the positive outlook it will give the country. We have seen that the costs were arranged to be zone and state specific. This is because the cost of certain variables in Lagos would be different from what is obtainable in Port Harcourt or Calabar. All the parameters have been put into consideration especially the state of the roads and the charges collected by the local governments in several states” he said.
The Council also revealed plans to carry out similar surveys to ascertain standard haulage rates from dry ports in Nigeria to neighbouring countries for cross-border trade and economic planning.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Mr. Stanley Ezenga stressed that the government should be more concerned about ensuring the roads are in good order before setting haulage rates.
While he expressed delight that the development would afford freight forwarders a degree of predictability as they make projections for movement of cargoes, he also pointed out additional charges truck drivers incur as settlements to corrupt security agents.
“Today, we can’t project what trucks would charge because a lot of issues to spur a hike in the price. Within one week, a truck driver had quoted N300,000 and N350,000 as charge to move a container. However, with this rate and given other variables are in place, one can project the actual cost” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the Council of Maritime Truck Union Association (COMTUA) were notably absent from the meeting.
The Chairman, Dry Cargo Section of NARTO, Alhaji Inuwa Mohammed told our correspondent that the association as well as COMTUA wasn’t invited to the public presentation.