By Godwin Oritse
Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has attributed the high cost of doing business in Nigerian ports to the multiple taxation and high duty on cargoes.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, the Chairman of STOAN, Princess Vicky Hastrrup, said that besides the high cost of running terminals, importers and other port users pay much more than what is obtainable in other ports due to lack of certain infrastructures like light and good roads.
Hastrrup also noted that apart from the issue of double taxation, various government agencies collect all kinds of levies from both importers that are not collected in other countries.
She explained that inflation has also taken its toll on the cost of cargo clearance, adding that apart from storage and cargo handling charges that terminal operators collect from importers and agents, other agencies collect levies and duties.
She said “ For instance, while the duty on rice in Nigeria is put at 110 percent, it is seven percent in Benin Republic and Zero percent in Cameroon, noting this high import has not only encouraged smuggling, the government of Nigeria is also losing billions of Naira in revenue to other countries.
She said that terminal operators have added value to the Nigerian port system as the ports are more efficient than they were eight years ago. Hastrrup, who is also the Executive Vice chairman of ENL Consortium, operators of berths three and Four at the Apapa port Complex absolved terminal operators of the blame of high cargo cost at the ports, adding that what terminal operators collect are statutory charges.
She further explained that the efficiency exhibited by the operators in their various terminals has also resulted in increased cargo volume and ship traffic in the country.
She also noted that the congested port access roads in and around the port area has not helped matters as the congested roads cause delay for importers to take delivery of their goods just as empty containers find it difficult to come back to the port.
“Access to the ports is our greatest challenge; we have right now because it is becoming an enormous task for those that are coming to load or take delivery of their cargoes and I think that is very frustrating.
Sometimes, we cannot even discharge as much as we can possibly do because the trucks cannot even have access to the terminals. She also disclosed that most terminal operators run on generating set for 90 percent, which adds to their cost of operation.
“It is actually much more expensive to run terminals in Nigeria than in other countries. Let me say it loud and clear here that the concessionaires are not increasing cost, you have double taxation and all sort of levies, even the industrialist can attest to this.