The Senate, on Wednesday, decried exorbitant freight charges being at Nigerian Ports, with a resolution mandating its Committee on Marine Transport to engage stakeholders in the shipping industry and the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) with a view to addressing it.
The Senate resolution was a sequel to a motion, titled: “The exorbitant increase and unjustifiable shipping fees charged by shipping companies on Nigeria bound cargoes” sponsored by Senator representing Anambra South, Ifeanyi Ubah.
Presenting his motion, Senator Ubah disclosed that the vessels coming to Nigerian port queue longer when compared to other countries (30 days) before berthing at our port due to various charges.”
He explained that Nigeria being an import-driven economy with excessive dependence on imports for consumption and capital goods, the shipping sector is key in facilitating the continuity of economic activities, ensuring supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods, including energy and food supplies, and transportation of vital medical and protective equipment in Nigeria.
He, however, maintained that high freight cost could be a big encumbrance adding that “the cost of shipping goods into Nigerian ports is among the highest in the world with the figure for Apapa Port costing more than thrice of that to Tema, Ghana and five times higher than that of Durban, South Africa.”
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The lawmaker who submitted that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos is among the most expensive globally said the unsavoury development has forced importers to abandon their cargoes in the port, thereby making the NPA lose revenue and reducing the efficiency and turnaround of ships to Nigerian ports.
Senator Ubah listed charges in other countries as $3,200 from China to Ghana, $3,000 to Cotonou and from $3,200 to $8,500 a few months ago to Nigeria, pointing out that this has “caused unjust hardship to Nigerians as importers transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers.”
Senator Ubah recalled that Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo tried to restore normalcy when as acting President in 2017 signed an Executive Order, directing 24-hour operations at the Apapa Port and outlawing unofficial charges at the ports.
According to him, “this order was aimed at improving the ease of doing business and reducing the high costs at the ports, but available statistics suggest that these unjustifiable charges and extortions by shipping agencies and law enforcement officers at the ports have continued till date.”
He, however, warned that the present situation at the ports, if not addressed, cause a spiral inflation rate on the nation’s economy.
Senate decries exorbitant shipping fees at Nigerian ports