Against the background of alleged arbitrary charges in the maritime industry, particularly on cargoes, the issue occupied the front burner at a Free Clinic on Arbitrary Shipping Chargesorganised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the law firm of Akabogu and Associates penultimate Tuesday.
At the end of the event, a number of stakeholders, who spoke, advocated for a consolidated charge system, arguing that the system, if introduced, will lay to rest the issue of arbitrary charges in the shipping sector between importers and shipping companies on the one hand, and freight forwarders and terminal operators on the other hand.
According to them, Nigeria is currently the only country in the West and Central Africa sub-region that has not adopted the consolidated charge system.
The issue of arbitrary charges in the Nigerian maritime sector has been lingering with each of the operators presenting their own side of the argument.
Shipping companies and terminal operators have often argued that the charges are legal, but importers and their agents have argued the other way round.
It would be noted that NSC had in the past tried to mediate in these allegations between the parties concerned.
While we support a consolidated charge system, with the fact that it will reduce corruption and know the exact amount being charged by parties concerned, we need to ask whether the country has the facilities to effectively operate the system.
If the system must work, there should be synergy among all parties concerned.
As a particular stakeholder said at that meeting, the Single Windom System being advocated by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the NSC may be the viable option for the implementation of the scheme.
All stakeholders must, therefore, support the initiative so as to finally lay to rest the issue of arbitrary charges among operators in the sector.
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