By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- In a bid to enhance the efficiency of its operations, the federal government, Monday directed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, to immediately commence the audit of all seaport terminals across the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this in Abuja at the opening session of a three-day sub-regional summit which has as its theme, “Unfair Shipping Surcharges and High Local Shipping Charges at the Ports of West and Central Africa Sub-region,” being hosted by the council
The Vice President told participants at the summit that in a bid to checkmate shady deals in the maritime sector, “The federal government has mandated the NSC in her capacity as the port economic regulator to carry out a comprehensive audit of all seaport terminals in Nigeria to ascertain their efficiency and competitiveness.
“Government will ensure that the outcome of the audit report will be fully implemented for improved port operation. The report of the audit will also spell out the responsibilities of terminals and the federal government.”
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi also said: “The council is further mandated to monitor and supervise compliance to the standard operating procedures by all port agencies and port service providers for improved service delivery.”
He further noted that government was not unaware of the increasing cost of transporting goods through the ports in the sub-region which he attributed to high freight rates and arbitrarily imposed surcharges such as bunker adjustment factor, currency adjustment factor, war risk surcharge, congestion surcharge, peak season surcharge, port operation recovery surcharge among others.
“The process of introduction of these surcharges lacks transparency and are not based on verifiable and available statistics,” Osinbajo stressed even as he lamented what he called the unilateral and arbitrary imposition of surcharges.
“These surcharges amount to huge sums of illegal capital flight from countries of the sub-region depleting their limited foreign exchange and reserves,” he said.