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Court dismisses case against Shippers’ Council over shipping charges

A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday
dismissed the case brought against the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) by some
of the terminal operators and shipping companies that were aggrieved over the reduction
of shipping charges at the nation’s ports.

The Court, also, while upholding the appointment of the Council
as the Economic Regulator ordered the service providers to refund all the
charges they had collected from Nigerian importers from November 3 when the
notice to stop such charges was issued by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
The Association of Shipping Lines Agency (ALSA) and the Seaports
Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) had on November 3 gone to
court stop the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) from enforcing a notice
stopping the service providers from collecting storage charges they had
introduced on their own as against the rate approved by the Transport Minister in
2009.

The Council had also ordered an increase in the free storage
period at the ports from three days to seven days.
The Ports Regulator had equally directed shipping companies to
reduce their shipping line agency charges from N26,500 to N23,850 per TEU and
from N48,000 to N40,000 per TEU.
The Preceding judge Mr Ibrahim Buba, said that the President of
Nigeria has right under section of the Nigerian constitution for appointing the
council as the port regulator.
“Every government has right to protect the welfare and
government is there for the welfare and security of its people.
” Court cannot see itself having to contend with government
action  to prevent leakages of the economy,” Buba said.
This was in response to the argument by the counsel to the
terminal operators and shipping companies that the Council does not have right
to carry out the decision as contained in the Notice issued to the service
providers.



The court also dismissed a case filed by members of the
Association of Shipping Lines Agency (ALSA) against the NSC over a directive to
the agencies to reduce their shipping line agency charges (SLAC) and refund
container deposits.
The judge also said that the shipping line agencies charge that
was introduced by the SLAC should be counseled
The court also ordered a refund of the SLAC being collected
since 2006 to the Cargo Defence Fund a department under the NSC for the benefit
of the shippers.

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