Exporters threaten to abandon ports over fresh charges
The Association of Exports Commodity and Manufacturing Freight Forwarders of Nigeria on Friday said that exporters would boycott the nations’ ports unless the terminal operators withdraw the newly-introduced container handling charges.
The President of the association, Mr Olubunmi Olumekun, told newsmen in Lagos that exporters would not pay the N40,000 and N60,000 on 20 ft. and 40 ft. containers respectively, which took effect from June 1.
Olumekun recalled that before port concession, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was charging N516 wharfage and wharfinger on 20 ft containers, which was later increased to N2,100.
According to him, the new charges were additional charges to storage fees and renomination fees, being charged should a container failed to be shipped.
When port concession came, we paid the terminal operators N4, 200 per 20 ft. container and N6,200 per 40 ft containers.Now, we are expected to pay N40,000 per 20 ft container and N60,000 per 40 ft container.
Is this how we are going to survive and diversify the nation’s economy?’’ he asked.
Olumekun said the association demanded a review of the container handling charges to promote commodity export business in the country.
He said that exports were scheduled to be delivered within 24 hours and placed on fast track, “but the papers are still being delayed for three days.’’
Unless the Federal Government intervenes quickly, we would be left with no option than to either shut down the ports or leave the export business.
For those of us doing legitimate business, we cannot continue,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Olumekun as saying.
He said that 40 per cent of exporters had closed shops, adding that 30 per cent of the remaining 60 per cent were smuggling the commodities through Cotonou and Niger Republic.
Our cashew nuts are smuggled though Cotonou, while sesame seeds are smuggled through Niger Republic because of the high cost of exportation,’’ NAN further quotes Olumekun as saying.
He noted that export processes were also being delayed by an officer at the Apapa Customs end.
The Director of Operations, ADLAD Group, Mr Remi Olikuntuyi, said that when the port concession started, there were guidelines that there must be consultation by the concessionaires before any increase in charges.
According to Olikuntuyi, exports, imports fetch the second highest revenue for government, adding that this was why government should come and remedy the situation.
No exporter is making profit. Without the 30 per cent incentive, Nigerian exporters cannot compete with other exporters from the neighbouring countries,’’ he said.
An exporter, Mr Usi Stephen said that exporters would not pay the new charges, saying that Nigerian exportable products were not competitive.
A source close to the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) confirmed the introduction of the new container handling charges for exports.
The source told NAN that since the last 10 years of port concession, terminal operators were handling export containers free of charge.
According to the source, the free charge cannot go on forever considering the situation in the country.
He said that the newly-introduced charges on export containers were still lower than what importers were paying.