Shippers’ Council Bemoans Lack Of Competition Among Port Service Providers, Arbitrary Charges Increase

By Babajide Okeowo

Shippers’ Council Bemoans Lack Of Competition Among Port Service Providers, Arbitrary Charges Increase

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has bemoaned the absence of competition amongst service providers in Nigerian ports and the arbitrary increase of charges by operators without explanation.

Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC Cajetan Agu made this known at a recent Sensitization Programme for Stakeholders on Consumer Rights and Responsibilities in the Shipping Sector. He lamented the absence of competition among terminal operators, shipping companies, and even freight forwarders as is obtainable in the telecommunications sector.

This lack of competition has left port users at the mercy of the port service providers who in turn subject port users to arbitrary charges without any explanation.

“There are no billboards mounted by any of the shipping companies or terminal operators or even the freight forwarders operating in Nigeria.

In the telecommunications sector, you see billboards everywhere, there are adverts on the radio and television and even on the pages of the newspaper but it is not the same in the maritime sector, this is evidence that there is no competition.

And the regulation that established the Nigerian Shippers’ Council recognizes competition. If you go to section 3AC, there is a provision there that states that the Nigerian Shippers Council should encourage competition and equally guide against abuse of monopoly and dominant market position.

It is in recognition of this that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) have deemed it fit to collaborate” he disclosed.

Agu further disclosed that the collaboration between FCCPC and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council dated as far back as the year 2000 and that the intervention became necessary following certain observed unfair trade practices regarding to collusion and price fixing.

He also decried the issues of arbitrary increases in the price of services in the port without due explanation.

“There are certain things users of port services require, and it has to do with service delivery. I need to be sure that when I go to the shipping companies and terminal operators, the bill that I am going to get must be accurate. One of the challenges we are having in this industry is the issue of arbitrary charges, today, you get charges of maybe N50,000, and tomorrow you go back there, and it has increased without any cogent reason, these are areas that we need to look into.

There is also the issue of compliance, if I have a complaint, where do I go? There must be a platform for that, these are some of the expectations from port users” he said.

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