Peace Obi 

The various bodies that makes up port service poviders including shipping lines, freight forwarders have kicked against the introduction of a new registration fee by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

The stakeholders, who spoke at a sensitization workshop organised by the NSC in Lagos on Thursday, said that the registration fee was an addition to the multiple charges they were contending with from other government agencies including the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN), among others.

A breakdown of the registration fee released by NSC showed that shipping line agencies are expected to pay a registration fee of N100,000 per annum; cargo consolidators N20,000; dry port operators N50, 000; freight forwarders and clearing agents N10, 000; haulage firms N10,000; inland container depot operators N50,000; off dock terminal operators N20,000; seaport terminal operators N100,000; shippers N1,000; shippers associations N5,000; stevedoring companies N20, 000; and warehouse operators N20,000.

A representative of one of the shipping companies, Ohizu Vincent, said that the introduction of the charge would add to the cost of shipping line services, which will be transferred to the market.

He said, “This is cost addition to what the shipping lines are going to incur. What are the criteria set aside to corroborate this payment? You have asked some to pay different payments and you have given the bulk of the payment to shipping agencies.

“Looking at what Nigeria is today; are we trying to encourage indigenous shippers or bring them down because with such charges, it will be difficult for indigenous shippers to make these payments.”

Vice Chairman, Freight Forwarders Trade Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Las Alli Shobande, urged NSC to focus more on its regulatory functions than revenue collection as there are many charges already existing in the port.

He said, “We are already burdened with too many regulations; there is NIMASA, NPA, NCS, CRFFN and the rest of you. Try and streamline these charges. You should look at the process where it should be more of a regulation than revenue collection.

Calling on government to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria, the immediate past president, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (AREFFN), Frank Ukor, urged NSC  to reduce the payment for practitioners “as we are already feeling the pains of various charges at the port,” Ukor said.

Speaking earlier, NSC’s Director of Legal Services, Samuel Vongtau, said the registration of port service providers will help government in policy formulation and rid the sector of quacks.

He said, “Especially to our port environment, registration will bring sanity and reduce congestion. Once the service providers are registered and known, the number of people entering the port will be reduced. Congestion will be reduced drastically as only the registered service providers will be given access to the port environment. This will lead to increased efficiency in service delivery.

“Knowing the players in the ports in terms of numbers and types of businesses they are doing, financial projections will be made easy as experts would easily know what the sector can generate from the types and number of businesses.”

Vongtau said while the NSC management would consider a review of the registration fee, defaulters would be denied access into the port.

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