Against the backdrop of plans by the federal government to hike the import duty on used automobiles popularly called tokunbo from next year and sundry policies that are considered inimical to their trade, Nigerian shippers are planning to unite all shipping related associations and pressure groups with a view to speaking with one voice in order to influence government policies.
Giving this hint in Lagos yesterday, President of Shipping Association of Lagos State, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, lamented tthat fragmented pressures by different shipping interests have not helped shippers hence the need for a common front to protect their interests. Nicol disclosed that the different groups will be united under the supervision of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). According to him, such groups as Importers Association of Nigeria, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition and shippers associations across the federation would be fused under one umbrella for the purpose of speaking with one voice and influencing government policies.
“There is the need for all shippers in various organizations and associations to come together under one umbrella of NSC. We will form a very big umbrella to protect the shippers and speak with one voice,” he said.
Nicol stated that time has come when shippers should not be left out of decision making by the government.
He disclosed that Shippers Association of Lagos State will invite all the shipping related associations for one of the biggest conferences in Lagos in the first quarter of next year to achieve the objective of speaking with one voice and clearing goods in Nigerian ports with minimal delay and cost.
“We will be building up the biggest shippers association in West African sub region,” he stated.
He also said that his association will extend its facilities to all other associations and use the mechanism of NSC to reach out to the government on policy issues relating to tariffs and the type of goods that should be imported.
“We will be in a position to advice on some of the harsh policies that needed to be reviewed in order to promote huge flow of imports into the country.” He averred that with a common front, the problems of individual shippers will be seen as the problems of all and taken up jointly. He envisaged that this would usher in a new regime of cargo clearing in the sector in partnership with the Nigeria Customs Service as the sole government agency responsible for cargo clearance.