The union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) has decried what it described as unfair shipping surcharges and high local shipping charges on the economies of West and Central Africa.
Speaking at a UASC meeting / mini-sensitisation workshop on African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Abuja, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said: “The federal government of Nigeria is aware of the unreasonably high cost of transportation of goods to and from the sub-regional ports due to high freight rates, poor infrastructure and arbitrary surcharges such as war risk surcharges, port recovery surcharge, port congestion surcharge, peak season surcharge, bunker adjustment factor (BAF), currency adjustment factor (CAF) and extra insurance risk surcharge.”
The minister further said: “I am equally aware that the member councils of the union are concerned about the lack of consultation, timing and cost structure of these surcharges.
“These surcharges are mostly unilateral and at times new nomenclatures introduced by the multinational shipping companies/lines without consultation with the sub-regional authorities or the shippers.
“The process of the introduction of these surcharges lack transparency and may not be based on verifiable and available statistics.”
“These surcharges amount to huge sums of capital flight from the sub-regional economies and thereby depleting the limited foreign reserve.”
Executive secretary/chief executive officer of Nigerian shippers’ council (NSC) Emmanuel Jime, said Africa has remained at the mercy of foreign shipping lines and that needs to stop.
He called on African shippers to rise to the occasion by leveraging relevant technologies to increase efficiency.
“We cannot continue to remain at the mercy of the foreign shipping lines to determine the fate of our trade and transport through the imposition of unreasonable charges and surcharges on our economies.
“There is a need to scrutinise every detail involved in determining the cost of services rendered at our ports, make scientific comparisons with other ports of the world and arrive at acceptable rates for mutually beneficial transactions.
“It is time for us to rise to the occasion by leveraging relevant technologies to increase efficiency, advise our various governments on required policies and regulations to boost our trade and transport sector and discourage the continuous implementation of processes that contribute to delays and high cost of doing business at our ports,” he said.