By Samson Echenim in Abuja
A collaboration between the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria saved Nigerian importers N2 billion demurrage charges within just a quarter of a year, Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the council has said.
Bello said this in a welcome speech at the sub-regional summit of Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC), themed, “Unfair shipping surcharges and high local shipping charges on national economy of West and Central African states,” which began today in Abuja.
Bello said in order to reduce capital flight, the central Bank of Nigeria sought the assistance of the Nigerian Shippers Council as port economic regulator to confirm reasonableness of freight rate and determine reasonableness of demurrage.
“Already, about N2 billion has been saved through the confirmation of the reasonableness of demurrage. We thank the CBN for the collaboration,” Bello said.
Bello informed the summit that the aim of the council is to reduce the local shipping charges by 35 percent. He decried the multiples of surcharges levied of cargoes destined to West and Central Africa countries by international shipping companies due to some ugly situations in the region, but which remain even after the ugly situations have disappeared.
He said, “Some of the identified surcharges have been prevalent in the sub-region under various nomenclatures such as the Peak Season Surcharge and War Risk Surcharge to mention a few.
“According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), surcharges are supposed to be temporary measure by shipping lines involved in the shipment of goods worldwide to address peculiar challenges of shipping at destination and are subject to removal when the situation normalizes. Regrettably, some of these charges have assumed a permanence without justification or basis for negotiation.
According to the shippers council boss, for the past one or two years, the NSC hasactively engaged the foreign shipping lines in Nigeria in a comprehensive negotiation on local shipping charges.
“The kernel of these negotiations are based on these points; to establish a sustainable mechanism for further tariff negotiations; to collapse the myriad of charges to a manageable standard nomenclature, the charges have been collapsed from 18 to five; all charges must be justified and tied to measurable services; and no review of charges will be made without negotiation with NSC,” he said.