Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has condemned the imposition of high surcharges by shipping lines in the West African region and tasked the Union of African Shippers Council to adopt common, political and diplomatic strategies to checkmate malpractices.
Osinbajo made the call yesterday, in Abuja, while declaring open, the sub-regional summit on unfair shipping surcharges and high local shipping charges at the ports of West and Central sub-region.
He highlighted some of the surcharges to include, Bunker Adjustment factor, Currency Adjustment factor, War Risk Surcharge, confession sub charges, Peak season surcharges, Extra risk Insurance Sub charge, freight rate Surcharge, Port operation recovery surcharge, among others to be unnecessary.
According to him the surcharges amount to huge sums of illegal capital flight from the countries of the sub-region and has been depleting their foreign reserves.
Osinbajo disclosed that data obtained from the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) revealed that about N2billion is repatriated by multinational shipping companies from reasonable demurrage charges, each quarter of the year.
Attributing the poor transport infrastructure development as one of the reasons for the high port charges, he said for Africa to successfully implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) there is an urgent need for AU member state to prioritize development of transport infrastructure.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, disclosed that over the last one year, NSC has been negotiating with shipping lines to collapse the myriad of charges to a manageable standard nomenclature, disclosing that the charges have been collapsed from 18 to five.
He said: “We have actively engaged the shipping lines in Nigeria in comprehensive negotiation on local shipping charges such that all changes must be justified and tied to measurable services and to also ensure no review of charges would be made without negotiation with NSC.”
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi condemned the unilateral manner in which transport services providers introduced and increased freight rates on the West African trade through the various surcharges.
He pointed out that the federal government through its partnership with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) has being checkmating claims of terrorism, piracy, armed attacks on ships and other negative events in the Gulf of Guinea to increase charges and introduce more surcharges in Nigeria.