BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos
Stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector, comprising of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) are planning to stop the continued payment of war risk surcharge on cargoes coming into Nigeria by the international shipping lines.
The position of both agencies was made known in Lagos when the management team of the NSC led by the executive secretary/ CEO, Hassan Bello, paid a courtesy visit on the director-general of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh earlier in the week.
Nigerian importers had been paying a whopping $2.74billion in last three years over categorisation of Nigeria’s waters as a war risk nation, a development that led to spike in insurance premiums slammed on vessels and cargoes destined for Nigeria.
War risk surcharge is a supplementary carrier charge that is only applied when insurance underwriters designate specific zones as war risks. This surcharge has been applied relatively recently due to piracy along the Gulf of Guinea. The surcharge is levied to recover potential extra costs, such as re-routing or additional security. But according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Nigeria has paid $2.74billion as insurance surcharge due to pirate attacks in three years.
However, speaking during the visit, Bello said the surcharges are unilaterally and sometimes arbitrarily fixed without the knowledge or consent of the local shippers.
He said, “We want to eliminate most of these surcharges that litter out trade. Surcharges are supposed to be temporarily charges to deal with unusual situations but some have become permanent like the war risk clues.
“We need the two organisations to work together to ensure that we know what these surcharges are because they are unilaterally and sometimes arbitrarily fixed without the knowledge, the consent or information of the people who pay for these charges, especially, the shippers in Nigeria and sometimes those from other West African ountries.”
Recalling the battle they had last year to stop the peak season surcharge which would have been a lot of money, he added that, “But when we all came together, we were able to at least stop the general application for cargoes coming into the country.
“Otherwise with the COVID-19 and those charges then we would have had an inflationary trend that would have affected our economy and that is not good,” he said.
Responding, the director-general of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, said the number of attacks on visiting vessels has reduced drastically since the cancellation of the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) by the federal government.
Jamoh noted that attacks on vessels have gone down from one daily to one in two to three months.