A major clash between Nigerian shipping authorities and global shipping firms over plans by the later to increase shipping charges is underway. Vanguard reliably learnt that the shipping firms are planning to fix 2020 peak period charges at $1000 per container, about 400 percent up from $200 they were charging.
Confirming the development, Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, told Vanguard that he was aware of the planned increase, adding that the council was already mobilising Nigerian authorities as well as the private sector stakeholders to resist the move.
He also said the increase, considered astronomical and discriminatory against Nigeria, was the highest in the world as range of such charges in other economies was between $100 and $200.
The new charges, if implemented, according to the shipping industry operators, would be added to cost of imports, and Nigeria’s economy still import-dependent would be forced into another round of inflationary pressure.
Speaking to Vanguard on the development, Bello stated: “We are trying to stop the shipping companies’ $1,000 per container charge, which they are trying to impose.
“It is not a local charge, it is levied internationally but we are fighting very hard to ensure that they reverse this decision. We have found out that the charges cannot be justified, not even now that Nigeria’s economy is struggling to recover from the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“NSC has already written to Shippers Association of Nigeria, SAN, and also the headquarters of these shipping companies in Europe and everywhere, that it will be economic sabourtage at this time to levy such on Nigerian bound cargoes.
“Apparently, the increase is not levied on some other countries, so it is discriminatory. The levy in some other countries is between $100 and $200 but in Nigeria, they are pushing it to $1,000; it is not justifiable.
“The other problem is that nobody explains what the charges are for. They will use all sought of unjustified means to ensure that they add to the cost of shipping in Nigeria.”
“From now till Wednesday, we will be consulting with the private sector. I have already spoken with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and I have already spoken with big shippers like Dangote, the breweries and others so that we can come together and start fighting against this arbitrary increase.”
“At the international level, we are going to rally the global shippers forum, we are also going to have a joint statement which we are crafting, along with the Union of African Shippers Council, UASC, that is all the Shippers Councils in Africa.
“We are also going to contact the Foreign Affairs ministry as well as the Ministry of Trade and Investment so that we can look at these unfair trade practices of these global shipping companies against Nigeria bound cargoes,” he concluded.
With the new charge, and going by the previous cargo throughput, Nigerian importers would be coughing out about $900 million (about N380 billion on official exchange rate) during the peak period which spans September to January.