By Godfrey Bivbere

Chairman of the Shippers Association of Lagos State, Jonathan Nicol, has rise alarm over hard times his members are made face in the course of clearing their goods from the ports by officials of the various government agencies, terminal operators and shipping companies.

Making this known to Vanguard Maritime Report in an exclusive interview, Nicol explained that shippers who source huge funds for their transactions are made to pass through deliberate obstacles by those mentioned over for personal gains.

He complained that in the last three years, the situation has even been worse as they have been nothing positive for them to serve as encouragement. He also faulted the targeting of N1 trillion by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, when the cargo is drying up.

According to him, “All people talk about is money, with the Nigeria Customs targeting N1 trillion, from where? Some they do all sort of things to make sure that they meet the target. If they are not aiming for their commission, why are they target N1 trillion when there are no cargo.

“So they query almost all entries, even the Pre-Arrival Assess Report, PAAR that they prepare, they say it is only advisory. All these things have to change; we have to respect the shipper.

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“I cannot say there is anything positive for the shipper for now, expecting the National Transport Commission, NTC bill is signed into law, then we know that there is a regulator.

“Then again you have all the government agencies working at cross purposes, the whole thing is turning out to be political. There problem between the government agencies, they should not be quarrelling amongst themselves.

“Nobody wants to reduce cost of doing business, you have Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, still regular with their charges, NAFDAF regular with their charges, “NPA is a no go area, the shipping companies and terminal operators is a no go area, so what is positive for us?

“We cannot even negotiate the reduction of cost, whether we are right or wrong, even on public holidays. So the problems are huge, very huge. If the government is serious, then they must sign the NTC bill for there to be a regulator in the industry,” he concluded.

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