Strong indications have emerged that licensed customs agents and
freight forwarders would soon join hands to shut down the seaports in
Nigeria over arbitrary increase in charges by shipping companies
agents, terminal operators and  some government agencies .
This became necessary following the additional cost the hike in
charges  has engendered in the clearing of goods at the seaports and
the inability of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, which is the Economic
Regulator to reverse the increase in tariff.
The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs
Agents (ANLCA) , Prince Olayiwola Shittu gave this indication while
reacting to the rise in tariff by the stakeholders at the Town Hall
Meeting organized by the Business&Maritime Magazine at the Nigerian
Institute of International Affairs(NIIA) Victoria Island Lagos
yesterday.
He said the customs brokers and the freight forwarders have waited for
months for the Shippers’ Council to intervene and reverse the charges
to no avail , adding that agents should not be blamed when they down
tools and close down the ports.
Marine and Economy reported  Prince Shittu as saying , it was
discouraging that the government agency which should call the
stakeholders involved in the illegal tariff hike to order has refused
to do so on the grounds that there it has a case in court against the
shipping companies agents and the terminal operators over some
increase in their charges in the past.
Shittu said that the agents will close down the seaports any time from
now  to show that they too can fight for themselves , the importers
and Nigerians who are always at the receiving end of the high cost of
clearing goods at the seaports in the form of high cost of goods and
services .
The ANLCA President stated that his association has concluded
arrangements with its counterparts to close down the ports and
demonstrate that, they would not tolerate illegal and arbitrary
charges at the maritime sector.
Some of the illegal  charges according to him  include; shipping due
departing charges, facility charge and others adding that there is
also the  sea protection levy that is  being charged by the Nigeria
Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) while the Nigerian
Ports Authority has likewise increased its dues.
“Shipping companies and terminal operators are reaping us off charging
all manners of fees. They believe Nigeria is big and they can get all
the money they want from the country to service other West African
region. We have it on good authority that what shipping companies get
from Nigeria is what they rely on for survival because of the next to
nothing charges they get from other countries in Africa.
“Again the demurrage they are charging in Nigeria they don’t have the
facility to support it, they are required to have holding bays they
don’t have. It does not matter if the fault is theirs or not you are
still charged demurrage. Their charge is the cause of the high cost of
doing business at the port and this is affecting the Nigerian
economy,” the ANLCA boss said.
Indications are that the customs agents associations will come
together again through the enactment of the joint action of freight
forwarders (JACOFF) through which they have used  as a pressure tool
to demand for their rights from government and stakeholders in the
past.
Consequently, ANLCA will work with National Association of Government
Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF) , National Council of Managing
Directors of Licensed Customs Agents(NCMDLCA) , the clearing group of
the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry(LCCI) among others.
Mr Okey Ibeke , the Publisher of Business &Maritime West Africa
Magazine said that the Town Hall Meeting is the first in the series of
such,  meant to synthesize ideas  that will enable Nigeria realize its
full maritime potentials.

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