By Godfrey Bivbere
Unless urgent steps are taken by the relevant authorities, the ports may soon be shut down by the leadership of the various freight forwarding groups to protest illegal charges on importers by shipping company agents and their support by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Investigation reveals that freight forwarding groups at a recent meeting decided to embark on work-to-rule following the continuous collection of illegal charges by the shipping company agents.
When contacted on the issue, National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who doubles as the Chairman of Joint Action Committee of Freight Forwarders (JACOFF) ,confirmed the above. He, however, declined to give details, saying JACOFF would make an official statement on the issue soon.
In his reaction, Francis Omotosho of Francis Omotosho and Associates and a chieftain of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), told Vanguard that shipping agents presently collects about seven illegal charges from port users.
Similarly, he explained that water-front terminal operators collect about 11 different charges while their counterpart in the off-dock operation (bonded terminals) collect about 20 different charges.
The ANLCA chieftain listed the charges collected by shipping agents as container deposit charge, container cleaning and maintenance charge, bill of laden (processing) charge, MOWCA level, stamp duty fee and container demurrage.
For the water-front terminal operators, he pointed out that the charges being collected are terminal handling charge (which he said is too high}, terminal delivery charge, container examination charge, labour charge, transfer charge, stamp duty charge (they collect money for it), royalty, hot box fee (HBF), ISPS charge, five per cent VAT and progressive rent charges.