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APMDC faults Shippers’ Council claims on arbitrary shipping charges

The management of the Associated Port Marine Development Company (APMDC) has denied allegations of arbitrary charges and non-compliance with regulatory directives levelled against it by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

Olise-Emeka Nwachukwu, group head, Human Resources and Public Affairs, said in a statement that APMDC operates one of the most competitive tariffs in the market.

According to him, the company’s tariff structure is determined by high cost of delivering groupage containers from discharge ports or off docks to its bonded terminal/warehouse.

Recall that the Council had shut down the company’s terminal over allegations of non-compliance with regulatory directives and arbitrary charges.

The Council further alleged that APMDC had been issued several notices to address infractions ranging from charging in foreign currency to non-compliance with approved nomenclature of charges such as transport adjustment charges, non-vessel-operating carriers, outright disregard of terms of mediation reached at NSC and unresolved complaints of over one and half years, among others.

Meanwhile, Nwachukwu explains that Transport Adjustment Factor (TAF) being a bill back costs, is one example of excessive costs of delivering groupage containers.

On the economic impact of APMDC, he notes that the firm in addition to creating employment to Nigerians also contributes billions of revenue to the trillions generated yearly by Nigeria Customs through import duties/taxes and levies.

While stating that APMDC should be applauded instead of being maligned, he described Shippers Council’s action as subjudise, and that the matter is currently pending at an appellate court.

“It is important to note that by shutting down the activities of APMDC, the Council acted in flagrant disregard of the pending case at the Court of Appeal where these contending issues are before the court,” he states.

On foreign currency charges, Nwachukwu says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in 2015 grouped their operation among one of the services that can charge in foreign currency.

He further states that the charges collected in foreign currency were not for local services.

“Regarding transshipment port dues and other charges collected in foreign currency, and the allegation of financial infractions, there has never been any infraction, as the said charges collected were not for local services. Transshipment operations and its associated costs do not occur at a destination port of Lagos but at a mid transit port in the course of the container journey between load and discharge ports,” he explains.

Continuing, he says: “Besides, CBN as the official financial regulator has exempted operators in the maritime and aviation sector where APMDC plays, to make and receive payments in foreign currencies; hence APMDC has not committed any infractions as alleged.”

Also, Rachael Monye, deputy manager, Shipping of APMDC, says Shippers Council’s is uninterested about operators’ plights and industry inherent challenges that drive charges to customers.

She also accused the Council of fee imposition without consideration to high costs of delivering the services.

“We must put it out clearly that the major bane of contention to all operators, is that NSC tries to fix prices which negates healthy competition among players, indeed an action that is against standard international commercial/business norms,” she states.

Monye further explains that APMDC offers midrange cost effective supply chain solutions to both private and public sector businesses especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), which ameliorates financial burdens for importers, and create ease of doing business.

“We play very pivotal role to the growth and sustainability of the SMEs, hence we should be commended and encouraged as we bridge the gap between airfreight and full container import option of the average business entities avoiding high airfreight, full ocean freight rates,” she states.

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