Boniface Aniebonam, founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has said that terminal operators deserved to increase storage charges at the nation’s seaports given the impact of high energy cost and naira devaluation on their operational cost.
According to him, the removal of fuel subsidies by the Federal Government, the high cost of diesel and the declining value of the naira have led to the high operating cost at the port, thereby necessitating an increase in charges.
“The truth of the matter is straightforward and unambiguous for us to understand that the operational cost of the terminal operators has increased due to the removal of fuel subsidy. Therefore, the urgent need for them to break even as business enterprises cannot be over-emphasised.
“What shall be most appropriate at the moment is for the Nigeria Shippers Council to call for an emergency meeting of the stakeholders and the terminal operators to seat and work out a competitive price increase that is reasonable and affordable,” he said.
Aniebonam also called on freight forwarders to support the Federal Government to overcome the present economic hardship in the country.
“Whatever it may be, it is my belief that this is the time for sacrifices and hard work if we must come out from the present economic hardship in our country. I, therefore, appeal to freight forwarding practitioners to exercise restraint and cooperate with the government to broker the unrest for the peace of the ports. Dialogue, consultation and communication are the ways going forward in conflict resolution other than violence. It is also very important that terminal operators should always seek approval of an increase in charges from the appropriate authority in the transportation ministry and due consultation with the stakeholders. We share their difficulties like any other in Nigeria,” he said.
He pointed out the need for the two leading freight forwarding associations, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and NAGAFF to work together to promote peace and harmony in the maritime industry.
Just recently, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the port economic regulator, approved the increase in storage charges to discourage the use of the ports and terminals as storage facilities.
Earlier in the week, Kayode Farinto, former acting national president of the ANLCA, had on Tuesday said that the rising cost of diesel, declining value of the naira and high rate of inflation are factors that justify the need for an upward review of terminal operators’ charges.
“The terminal operators too are Nigerians and if we juxtapose what is happening vis-a-vis the fact that there has been an increment in prices of fuel and the dollar has risen, there has to be a rise in their charges too. We are in an era where you cannot predict the dollar and these people are rendering services so it becomes inevitable for them to increase,” Farinto said.
He charged the Federal Government to repair the dilapidated port access roads to reduce the hardship faced by importers and their agents.