By Godfrey Bivbere
The Nigerian Shipper Council, NSC, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, yesterday disclosed that they will challenge the sustained arbitrary charges by international shipping lines for vessels coming to the country.
The position of both agencies was made known in Lagos when the management team of NSC led by the Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Hassan Bello, paid a working visit to the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh.
Bello said: “We want to eliminate most of these surcharges that litter our trade.
The Surcharges are supposed to be temporal to deal with unusual situations but some have become permanent like the war risk charges which I am sure that the Director-General (Jamoh) will know that as soon as we solve the security problem the war risk charges will go.
“But even more important, we need our two organizations to work side by side to ensure that we know what these surcharges are because these surcharges are unilaterally and sometimes arbitrarily fixed without the knowledge, consent or even informing the people who pay these charges, especially the shippers in Nigeria and sometimes those of West Africa.
“You might recall the battle we had last year to stop the peak season surcharge which would have been a lot of money but when we all came together we were able to at least stop the general application for cargoes coming into the country, otherwise with the Covid-19 and those charges, we could have an inflationary trend that could affect our economy and that is not good,” he noted.
Commenting, the Director-General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, said the number of attacks on visiting vessels has reduced drastically since the cancellation of the Secured Anchorage Area, SAA, by the government.
Jamoh noted that attacks on vessels have gone down from one every day to one in two or three months.
In his words, “The Executive Secretary (Bello) made mention of the war risk insurance; we were recording about six attacks per week, making it an average of one attack per day.
“Since the cancellation of SAA to date, we have recorded only two attacks. So meaning that we are getting to the level where we can say in two or three months we recorded only one attack.
“We are working to collate the attacks for six months to be able to generate the number of attacks to challenge the international community why we should continue to pay war risk insurance in Nigeria.
“We are quietly observing what is going on and we will not query, we will not fight the international community but we will go with our data.”