• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Stakeholders laud Shippers’ Council over fresh regulatory measures

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Stakeholders in the maritime industry, who took turns to appraise the efforts of Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) as the interim regulator of the port industry, have commended the management of the council for the new regulatory measures introduced in the ports.

According to them, the new regulatory measures have not only helped in promoting trade facilitation and efficient service delivery at the port, but have succeeded in restoring importers’ confidence on Nigerian ports over and above ports of the neighboring countries.

BusinessDay findings show that the council, as part of its regulatory functions, had in the last few weeks directed shipping companies to reduce some of the charges in the ports. The charges include Shipping Line Agency Charge (SLAC) and Container Cleaning which shipping companies were directed to reduce by 50 percent. Shipping companies were also directed to begin to refund container deposits within 10 days after such containers had been returned to them. The decision was taken during a meeting with the shipping companies who were given time to effect the changes.

Adedeji Ogunlana, a freight forwarder, said such measures would help in checking the introduction of frivolous charges against importers who have goods to clear at the ports. He noted that the shipping companies had been in the habit of collecting inappropriate charges in the past due to absence of a regulator to checkmate them.

Ogunlana further said it was a signal to terminal operators who had been collecting arbitrary demurrage even when it was not the fault of the importer that his goods could not be cleared on time. Onyebuchi Idoko, another industry stakeholder, said the reduction of charges was long overdue, adding that multinational shipping agencies had been in the habit of defrauding Nigerians.

He commended the executive secretary of Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, for the moves made so far to sanitise the ports industry and check the excesses of both shipping companies and terminal operators, adding that over the years, the service providers had had a field day imposing illegal charges on importers.

“Some importers had to abandon the money after several attempts. But now that they have been given time to refund the deposit after the return of the empty containers, things will change. We appreciate the regulator for such efforts, because billions of naira deposits belonging to importers are with some of these shipping companies,” he said.

Describing the moves as a good development, the stakeholders called on the ports regulator to ensure that the affected shipping companies comply with the directive.