The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has identified corruption in the nation’s seaports and high port charges by terminal operators and shipping companies as reasons why cargoes are diverted to neighbouring countries.
Speaking recently at the maiden edition of the annual maritime summit tagged: “Port Charges: How Plausible? an assistant director in the Council, Celine Ifeora, called for paradigm shift and regulation of charges at ports.
She said: “There is inadequate regulations, people do what they want to do. There should be a paradigm shift.”
Ifeora however explained that charges contribute immensely to reason why importers abandoned Nigerian ports. “Charges contributes to diversion of cargoes to neighbouring countries,” she added.
Ifeora , who has been at the forefront of liberal charges at the Nigerian ports said the only way to achieve hub status was to waive some of the charges.
“Every charge must be tied to a service and for you to ask me to pay you, you must tell me what you have done to deserve the payment,” she said. “In developed countries, there are modal split of for example, 20 per cent road, 50 per cent rail and 20 per cent by barge but in our country, we do 99 per cent by road.”
Also speaking, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, assured that the Authority was working hard to create a level playing ground for all operators, insisting that all hands must be on deck to improve port efficiency and competitiveness.
Usman, who was represented by the manager, Audit, Sarah Oghomienor, said: “We have been working hard to ensure operational efficiency and effectiveness at the ports. It is not only the port charges that is so depressive, it is the entire system, the infrastructure, the roads, the insurance, among others are culminating to the higher cost. I think the onus lies on all of us.
Vice president-elect, ANCLA, Kayode Farinto, said the high cost at the seaports was ridiculous, very high and it is killing the industry.
“In fact, we should commend the importers that are still bringing their cargoes through our ports. They deserve an award,” he said.