Stakeholders in the maritime industry have risen up against the recently introduced charge of N38, 000 by shipping companies in Nigeria, dubbed the Government and Port Taxes.

The stakeholders also noted that the charge by the shipping companies contravenes the provisions of the Convention of the World Trade Organisations WTO Articles VIII 3(b), adding that if left unchecked, would add to the already high clearing cost that has necessitated the diversion of Nigeria bound vessels to neighbouring West African ports.

The National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, and copied to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Transportation, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), alleged that the increase captioned “Government and Port Taxes” charged each container N38,000. The letter stated that unless the government intervened, the new charge may throw the industry into chaos, especially as the new charge negated the Memorandum of Understanding signed by all stakeholders.

He argued that the provisions of the law authorized the carrier to hand over the goods to the consignee at the port of discharge without any cost, as all cost were embodied in the freight paid by the importer based on the law. He maintained that any other charge introduced by the shipping companies contravened the provisions of the Convention of World Trade Organization (WTO) Articles VIII 3(b), and domestic laws and regulation.

According to him, “The United Nations Convention on the Carriage of goods by Sea was domesticated as Act No.19 in 2005, which specifies under the following provision: 1. The responsibility of the carrier for the goods under this Convention covers the period during which the carrier is in charge of the goods at the port of loading during the carriage and at the port of discharge.

“The Provision of the Law authorizes the carrier to hand over the goods to the consignee at the port of discharge without any cost, as all cost are embodied in the FREIGHT Paid by Importer based on the Law.

“Any other charges introduced by the Shipping Companies contravenes the provision of the Convention of WTO Articles VIII 3(b), the domestic laws and regulation. The practice constitutes a very high percentage of charges that is not tied to service, which is a contributory factor to the High clearing cost that necessitates the diversion of Nigerian bound Vessel to neighbouring West African Ports.”

“The shipping Line is an agent to the carrier who are double agents in Nigeria collecting from their principals(CARRIER) and from the Nigeria importers, shipping line Charges, without any operational cost like the provision of the following: non-provision of terminal space, non-provision of equipment, non-provision of security, non-provision of staff etc,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, (ANLCA), Mr. Kayode Farinto, said that his group was aware of the introduction adding that it would be resisted.

“Be assured that we will resist it, the new port charges cannot stay, and we will not allow it, and we will come with our position on the matter soon,” he said.

The additional shipping charges were introduced through a circular dated October 28th, 2016 by shipping companies to their customers and are currently being implemented.

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