High charges at ports killing businesses ―Manufacturer

LOCAL manufacturers and other industry operators in the country have cried out over the high cost of clearing cargoes at Nigerian seaports, describing it as a cankerworm that has forced so many companies into extinction.

The stakeholders, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACIMMA), Association Of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANCLA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), among others who gathered at a maritime industry summit organised by the Shipping Correspondent Association of Nigeria (SCAN) on Thursday in Lagos , bemoaned the effect of high port charges on the survival of their businesses.

President, MAN, Frank Udemba Jacobs, said port charges are major source of worry for the manufacturers and it has contributed to high cost of production.

Jacobs, who was represented by Niran Olajobi, bemoaned the deplorable ports access roads and the gridlock, which has contributed to the charges, urging government to immediately fix the roads.

President, NACIMMA, Mrs Alaba Lawson, commended the Federal Government on the initiatives of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) for its action plan aimed at creating enabling environment and easy movement of goods across borders, calling for full implementation of the action plan.

Speaking on the theme: “Port Charges: How Plausible?” she said: “Delay in clearance of cargoes at Nigerian ports still persist despite PEBEC’s intervention which is a far cry from what is practicable in other African ports such as Ghana and Benin republic. The ports have a low level automation, data base and integrated process system. We urge government to put in place more effectively strategies to improve the overall efficiency at the ports and reduce the cost of doing business at ports to make Nigerian ports a hub for international freights and trade,”

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In her own presentation, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman assured that the Authority is working hard to create a level playing ground for all operators, urging stakeholders that all hands must be on deck to improve port efficiency and competitiveness.

Bala Usman, who was represented by the Manager Audit, Sarah Oghomienor, said: “We have been working hard to ensure operational efficiency and effectiveness at the ports. It is not only the port charges that is so depressive, it is the entire system, the infrastructure, the roads, the insurance, among others are culminating to the higher cost. I think the onus lies on all of us. Its our responsibility, we should go to any length to ensure that we all benefit from the industry. We at NPA are working relentlessly to ensure that it is a win-win situation for all stakeholders,”

She urged the media to support the reforms in the industry and celebrate the innovations just as they highlight the challenges.

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, in his own presentation said there should be commensurable service to the costs and anything less is unacceptable.

Bello, who was represented by Ignatius Nweke, pledged that the NSC would continue to do its best to make Nigerian ports efficient, effective and attractive.

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