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NSC directs truckers to reduce transport cost to aid port decongestion

Cargo clearance from Lekki Port takes 5 to 10 days – Lekki Freeport

The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on Tuesday in Lagos directed haulage operators to reduce transportation costs to aid decongestion of the nation’s seaports amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking in a meeting with truck owners under the aegis of Council of Maritime Truck Union and Association (COMTUA), Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Council, urged truck owners to make the sacrifice and contribute to the sustainability of the nation’s economy during this global health crisis.

According to him, the nation’s seaport doesn’t need astronomical or unrealistic freight rates as cargoes need to be evacuated to forestall congestion at the terminals.

“NSC has tried to bring out indicative freight rate for guidance. Though we are not directing you to obey that we can’t continue to have price differentials at whims and caprice of truck owners. There must be some guidelines on freight rate just like we are doing with shipping companies, terminal operators and others.

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He said that there must be a price regime that would be controlled by demand and supply; there must be some limit. “We want you to help us to have a standard rate so that there would be competition.”

Bello further stated that the Council would also engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on the reduction of their charges.

“We want you to look at the cost because everyone is making a sacrifice at this time. Terminal operators and shipping companies have made a sacrifice. Please don’t allow the Nigerian economy to be at a standstill and after the COVID-19 we don’t want it to be written that it is owners of trucks that let the nation down,” he appealed

He said that there are vessels lining up to come into the port to discharge but there is no space. “This is why we appeal to you to look at the cost of lifting cargoes from the port,” Bello requested.

He stated that since the Council and NPA had both secured storage and rent-free period for importers, the haulage operators should also ensure movement of the cargoes out of the port.

Bello, who noted that there are limitations in trucks lifting cargoes from the port, said the appeal was to find a solution because the Council has been going to the terminals and discovered that the rate of occupancy was getting to 90 per cent.

This, he said means that there is no space for cargoes at the terminal anymore and it was because trucks are not coming to evacuate cargoes.

Also speaking, Stephen Okafor, general coordinator, Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Association (COMTUA), agreed that the truck owners will lower to price to meet present realities.

He said the Council must, however, call an expanded meeting after the COVID-19 pandemic to draw up uniform freight rates for all truck owners.