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Clearing agents kick against port charges

Clearing agents have alleged that the port charges which were abolished by the Federal Government have resurfaced at the ports.
Mr John Oforbike, the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Apapa Port Chapter, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday that most of the charges abolished in 2009 were still being levied by the terminal operators and the shipping companies.

Oforbike said that the charges had caused the diversion of cargoes to the neighbouring ports.He recalled that in February this year, clearing agents went on a three-day strike to protest these charges, but the operators were bent on collecting the charges. Oforbike also faulted the introduction of storage charges by terminal operators and that the charges were militating against the 48-hour cargo dwell time.

“All cargoes abandoned at the ports are due to high storage charges,’’ he said.According to Oforbike, rent on a 40-foot container is N12,000 per day while shipping companies charges on a container have increased from N3,000 in some cases to N8,000. He called on the Federal Government to intervene in the matter because it had scared importers and slowed down activities at the ports.

The former Deputy Vice President of ANLCA, Mr Dayo Azeez, told NAN that shipping companies came up with many charges including shipping line agency fees.Azeez said that such charges should not be levied because the shipping companies operating in Nigeria had already been paid ship disbursement funds by the overseas ship owners.

The recommendations of the Ministerial Committee on Port Charges in March 2009, the Federal Ministry of Transport through the Nigerian Shippers’’ Council (NSC) announced the removal of eight charges described as illegal in Nigerian ports.

Terminal operators and shipping companies were consequently directed to stop the collection of the said charges from importers or their agents with effect from March 3, 2009. Some of the charges declared illegal include the international ship and port facility security (ISPS) code charge; bank charge; tally clerk charge and port administration charge.

The others are service charge, turnover charge, sorting charge and concessionaires’ royalty.It would be recalled that the freight forwarders in February this year, withdrew their services from the ports for three days over high port charges by terminal operators and shipping companies.


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