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.