The Senate has mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to engage with the maritime industry stakeholders to find solution to the high cost of shipping goods into the Nigeria.
This assignment was handed to the committee on Wednesday during plenary after the upper chamber considered a motion to that effect sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah.
In his presentation, Ubah noted that while Nigeria is 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 by ensuring supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods, including energy and food supplies, and transportation of vital medical and protective equipment in Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, vessels coming to Nigeria ports queue longer before berthing when compared to other countries due to various charges; adding that, “the cost of shipping goods into Nigerian ports is amongst the highest in the world”.
He expressed worry that a report on overseas cargo and freight costs by an online platform, Mover DB, shows that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos is among the highest globally.
Ubah lamented that the charges are so high that importers in most cases abandon their cargoes in the port, thereby leading to revenue loss and declining efficiency of the ports.
He said, “A close look at charges in other countries shows fees charged by shipping/cargo companies from China: Ghana $3,200 from China; Cotonou $3,000 from China; and Nigeria $8,500 from $3,200 a few months ago. This has caused unjust hardship to Nigerians as importer’s transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers.”
He noted further that in May 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was Acting President at the time, signed an Executive Order directing 24-hour operations at the Apapa port and outlawing unofficial charges at the ports.
Ubah pointed that despite Osinbajo’s order aimed at improving the ease of doing business and reducing costs at the ports, “available statistics suggest that these unjustifiable charges and extortions by shipping agencies and law enforcement officers at the ports have continued to date”.
He said excessive shipping charges would strangulate Nigerian shippers, warning that if nothing is done to defend Nigeria from such economic sabotage, the development is capable of leading to inflation in the country.
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