When the government of Nigeria introduced the concession of the ports in 2006, stakeholders in the industry heaved a sigh of relief, prior to this time, high cost of doing business, extortion, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate man-power and tools were the hallmark of the Nigeria ports.
So when government came up with the concession policy,it was warming welcome by stakeholders who had suffered the various deficiency of the ports. Thirteen years down the line we can’t say the objectives of the policy have been achieved, the answer is CAPITAL NO. All the problems in the pre-concession period are still prevalent in our ports and in some cases they have grown in leaps, the most annoying part is the issue of extortion through arbitrary charges especially in demurrage/rent.
Without doubt,the issue of demurrage is not, but sheer exploitation and looks like second slavery being experienced by Nigerians in their country. Honestly, how can one explain the extortion of demurrage being charged by shipping companies especially on PUBLIC HOLIDAYS.The job and satisfaction of all the freight forwarders is when the consignment is properly delivered in time and reasonable cost.
The issue of the rent or demurrage on public holidays is even more annoying when the importer realized that this is only peculiar to sea ports while nothing of such happens at Airports.
Why should there be discrepancies and discretion in the same international trade within the same country.Besides that, the holidays granted by the Federal Government should not be a punishment for importers,stakeholders and even the citizens of our great country.
We at (APFLON )believe that this is an effort on the sovereignty of Nigeria and economic sabotage arising from economic flight.Some of these anomalies and especially the issue of extortion by these shipping companies and terminal operators (who are mainly foreigners) have festered for so long because of the absence of PORT REGULATORS at the time the ports were concessioned in 2006. We appreciate the Government later for appointing Nigeria Shippers Council although without LEGISLATIVE INSTRUMENTS to function.
We therefore urge the Government to perfect this so Nigeria Shippers Council can BARK AND BITE. In the meantime, we call on the Nigeria Shippers Council to rise up to the occasion and safe importers and freight forwarders from economic disaster over the unjust rent/demurrage from these shipping companies and terminal operators, otherwise this will jeopardize Federal Government policy on “EASE OF DOING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA”.
In the same vein, Nigeria Government should beam it’s search light on the aviation and maritime industry with a view to check the rot in the system in order to maximize the benefits and standardize the industry with committee of nations.
THANKS AND GOD BLESS.
14TH AUGUST, 2019
DELIVERED BY OTUNBA FRANK OGUNOJEMITE (NATIONAL PRESIDENT)