The National President, National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr. Lucky Amiwero has called the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the recent increase in the shipping companies charge with what is called Government and Port Taxes.
Speaking in a letter he addressed to the President and copied to the Vice President, the Honorable Minister of Transportation, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Amiwero alleged that the increase captioned Government and Port Taxes was charged at thirty-eight thousand Naira(N38,000,00) per container without any government intervention in line with the provision of the Legislative instruments and the MOU signed by all stakeholders.
While arguing that the provisions of the law authorized the carrier to hand over the goods to the consignee at the port of discharge without any cost, as all cost were embodied in the freight paid by the importer based on the law, he however maintained that any other charge introduced by the Shipping Companies, contravened the provisions of the Convention of World Trade Organization (WTO) Articles VIII 3(b), the domestic laws and regulation.
He added that the practice constituted very high percentage of charges that were not tied to service, which he said was a contributory factor to the high clearing cost that necessitated the diversion of Nigerian bound vessel to neighboring West African Ports.
According to him,”The United Nations Convention on the Carriage of goods by Sea was domesticated as Act No.19 in 2005, which specifies under the following provision: 1. The responsibility of the carrier for the goods under this Convention covers the period during which the carrier is in charge of the goods at the port of loading during the carriage and at the the port of discharge. 2.For the Purpose of paragraph 1 of this Article, the carrier is deemed to be in charge of the goods-(a) From the time he has taken over the goods from (i) the Shipper, or a person acting on his behalf, or (ii) an authority or other third party to whom, pursuant to law or regulations applicable at the Port of loading, the goods must be handed over for the shipment; (b) Until the time he has delivered the goods: By handing over the goods to the consignee; In case where the consignee does not receive the goods from the carrier, by placing them at the disposal of the consignee in accordance with the contract or with the law or with the usage of the particular trade, applicable at port of discharge; or By handing over the goods to an authority or other third party to whom, pursuant to law or regulations applicable at the port of discharge, THE GOODS MUST BE HANDED OVER.
“The Provision of the Law authorize the carrier to hand over the goods to the consignee at the port of discharge without any cost, as all cost are embodied in the FREIGHT Paid by Importer based on the Law.
“Any other charges introduced by the Shipping Companies, contravenes the provision of the Convention of WTO Articles VIII 3(b), the domestic laws and regulation. The practice constitutes very high percentage of charges that is not tied to service, which is a contributory factor to the High clearing cost that necessitates the diversion of Nigerian bound Vessel to neighboring West African Ports”.
He therefore harped on the need to stop the present increase and any other charge that was not tied to services in line the United Nations Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2005, WTO Articles VIII and the various domestic laws and regulation in Nigeria adding that there was need to regulate the activities of the shipping companies in Nigeria in line with global best practices.
“The shipping Line is an agent to the carrier who are double agent in Nigeria collecting from their principal-(CARRIER) and from the Nigeria importers, shipping line Charges, without any operational cost like the provision of the following: non provision of terminal space, non provision of equipment, non provision of security, non provision of staff etc”, he said.
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