Hike In Shipping Charges Illegal, Could Cripple Nigeria’s Economy

By Judd-Leonard

The recent hike in peak period surcharge by the European Community Ship Owners Association on containers billed for Nigeria has sparked outraged from Nigerian importers, regulators, and lawmakers.

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The PSS was previously $200 but it was jacked to between $1,000 and $1,500 per container.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust in Abuja, the House Committee Chairman on Ports and Harbour, Datti Garba Mohammed, the member representing Sabon-Gari Federal Constituency of Kaduna state, said the 400 per cent Peak Season Surcharges (PSS) by European Community Ship Owners Association on goods headed to Nigeria is illegal and against the agreement earlier entered into with the Union of African Shippers Council.

“We are in the midst of COVID-19 which has impacted the economy of the whole world. It has affected almost all countries in the world. We are struggling to come out of it. Suddenly the European Community Ship Owners Association just imposed unilaterally increase in surcharges which they called peak season surcharge. This surcharge is about 400 per cent increment. This is aside from other charges that exist. This was done unilaterally without consulting their host, their Nigerian Shippers Council and other authorities that have to do with that,” he told our correspondent.

He said based on an agreement which was signed in 2010 and 2012 in Brussels with the Europeans, if there is need for any increase in surcharge, tax or any increase in charges, there should be contact between European Community Ship Owners Association and the Union of African Shippers Council so they can be on the same page. This didn’t happen he said adding that it’s a clear case of breach of the agreement signed between the two bodies.

Mohammed said the House of Representatives will invite the European shipowners to come to explain the rationale behind the hike adding that Nigeria’s economy will be undermined with the hike.

“Our economy will be deeply affected as their will be loss of revenue and inflation due to the high cost of the goods that will be imported to Nigeria. Secondly, there will be high cost of jobs in the maritime sector. Thirdly, this increment has made it difficult for importers to clear imported goods. This has exacerbated the problem of Apapa ports congestion and gridlock we are already battling with. So it will affect the maritime sector, and the Nigerian economy and life,” he explained.

“So as a parliament, we feel the peak season surcharge is illegal. We have written to all the shipping companies operating in Nigeria. We are inviting them to come and explain the rationale for the unilateral increment,” he said.

Source: Daily Trust

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