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Ease of Doing Business: Shippers Council knocks erring service providers

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC)  at the weekend said it would no longer be ‘business
as usual’ for   shipping service providers who have been
imposing  excessive charges in various
forms that are against the executive order on ease of doing business at the
ports.


The Council
which affirmed its readiness to promote the ease of doing business among all
service providers and consumers of shipping service at the nation’s ports, said
it would not condone activities that impede trade facilitation.


The Deputy Director, Compliance and Enforcement Unit of the
Council, Chief Cajetan Agu said the ports economic regulator was determined to
stop shipping companies and terminal operators from collecting illegal or
excessive charges from shippers.


He said the Council has been in the habit of appealing to the
companies peacefully, adding that it is only when such peaceful means fail that
the Council decides to take further action.


According to him, the Council has three options of addressing
issues of complete disobedience against service providers.


He identified the possible actions as “private warning,
public warning, sealing of premises, deregistration or blacklisting of the
companies involved.”


Agu said that its efforts in this regard have led to the
recovery of over N80million from service providers who over-billed some
importers.


Speaking at a one-day seminar for maritime journalists on the
theme Nigerian Shippers’ Council as an Interventionist Agency’, Agu said many
of the service providers were in the habit of over-billing shippers in the
areas of demurrage, storage, among other charges.


He identified Cosco Shipping Line, GAC Shipping Line as among
the agencies that have suffered the hammer of the ports economic regulator
recently .


He said the sum of $23, 000 was recovered from Cosco in
favour of one of the shippers.


“Between January and now, we’ve gotten up to N80 million. If
you translate the $23,000 that COSCO paid, it’s up to N10 million and don’t
forget, we carried enforcement at GAC, there was a refund because almost 30
containers which were held captive were released. Then there is even another
one again with same COSCO, the demurrage waivers and other interventions.


“It is not only from demurrages, even storage charge and some
were recovered from excessive charges that were imposed on the consignees.


“They were given back to the owners, although in the case of
COSCO, they sent the Cheque to us and we handed over the Cheques to them. How
can somebody make a complaint and you can trace him? The meeting we do is
normally tripartite meeting, when you complain, we look at your case, if it is
genuine, then we invite you and we invite the person that you made the
complaint against.”


He called on the shipping service providers to always obey
the rules of the games for the interest of promoting shipping trade in the
country.


Executive Secretary of the Council, Barr Hassan Bello in his
opening speech said the idea of the seminar was to create an avenue for
interaction with journalists.


Bello who was represented by the Director, Special Duties,
Mr. Ignatius Nweke said such interaction will help in moving the industry
forward.


According to him, the industry is supposed to contribute more
to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, adding that maritime
journalists should be part of the government efforts to ensure that the sector
takes its pride of place in terms of more contribution to the national economy.

He also identified the media as a  critical stakeholder, whose objectivity in reportage would establish what the industry desires.
Shipping Day.

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