Shippers Association cautions terminal operators, shipping lines over upward review of charges

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…Says shippers not against genuine increase in rates, charges

The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has cautioned the terminal operators especially the Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) and the Five Star Logistics over their planned upwards review of their terminal handling charges as well as rates without recourse to due process.

Speaking in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday, the President, SALS, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol noted that the announcement by some terminal operators to review their charges upwards in Nigeria was a wakeup call even as he chides some freight forwarders as well as the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) for supporting the move.

While insisting that shippers were not against increase of rates and charges neither will the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) refuse genuine increase of rates and charges, Nicol, however, pointed out that shippers were against violations of regulations as laid down by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

He reminded them that there was a subsisting legal issue between the terminal operators and shipping Lines in Nigeria on arbitrary charges awaiting final determination at the Supreme Court adding that the legal issues were instigated in 2014 by the terminal operators and the shipping lines, respectively.

“It is only right for all to maintain public peace as it relates to these issues”, he said.

NIcol maintained that the Port Economic Regulator – the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was empowered to discuss and agree on new rates and charges to be introduced to the shippers who would eventually pay the bills noting that “It is painful that we have not enjoyed the type of business friendliness in this sector since the introduction of the Port Concession Agreement of 2006.”

He continued, “In that Agreement, it was agreed that stakeholders will meet and agree to any increase in local rates and charges before implementing such. Shippers Association Lagos State did not receive any notification in writing by the affected terminal operators of any increase neither was any meeting held with our members in this respect.

“Some of the freight forwarders supporting this move may have forgotten that as agents, they are to protect their clients and not to commit the shippers in payment of arbitrary increases without approval from the Economic Port Regulator.

“We totally agree with the CREFFPON for their understanding. We thank all concerned for their various contributions. The environment is bedeviled with enough stress. We are discussing with the Nigerian Shippers Council on this issue and the Peak Season Surcharge which again will attract freight increases between June and end of September and this should give us more concern.

“We believe this matter can be resolved sooner or later by the Port economic Regulator for the interest and benefit of all.”

Photo: President, Shipppers Association Lagos State, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Nicol.

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