The Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) yesterday lamented trade malpractices and other misconduct impededing trade facilitation at the seaports.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the association’s National Publicity Secretary, Kayode Farinto, said Shippers are suffering and losing investment on daily basis.
According to him, members of the association are vulnerable to extortion, trade malpractices and surcharges by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), shipping companies and terminal operators.
He said, “Maybe it’s too early to start rating the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime but, Shippers have been treated with disdain since he came onboard. Shippers have not been given the right recognition and cooperation that is expected from an economic regulator.
“Whether anybody likes it or not, the man that receives the highest blow in the import value chain is the shipper. When there are barriers in trade, the man that suffers most is the shipper. It is unfortunate that the federal government is paying lip service to trade facilitation. Last year, Nigeria nearly entered into recession because we don’t produce anything and as an import dependent economy, we need to have trade facilitation at our ports.
Spokesman SALS, Kayode Farinto
“As Covid-19 rates worsen, restrictions might come harder. The man that brings in the cargoes must be protected. This year, the NSC must carry everybody along. It is important that the chicken that lays the golden egg is protected. The Shippers must be protected, empowered and encouraged.”
Farinto stated that the act establishing Shippers’ Council states that it must protect Shippers but, recent indices had shown that they are left at the mercies of terminal operators, shipping companies and customs to exploit.
His words, “In the NSC Act, the role of a Shipper is very clear. A Shipper is the person that brings in a cargo into a port area for the cargo owner, that is the importer. Section 3, sub-section C of the NSC Act under number 13 states that the Nigerian Shippers Council should encourage the formulation of shippers association all over the country. What this means is that it is not only Lagos State that should have a Shippers Association. Every State of the federation should have a Shippers association.”
“Although, we have a national shippers association that has been formed, but they have not been vibrant. Maybe they will be vibrant this year, we just pray so. We have looked at the role of the Shippers in the nations maritime industry, and have realized that we have not been carried along by the NSC in thier activities.”
“You people know that the Shippers Council currently accommodates Shippers in Lagos. We were given an accomodation on the second floor of the NSC headquarters. You people need to visit that place to see the kind of accomodation that the NSC has given us. Due to this poor arrangement and lack of adequate projection, we have come to a conclusion that for us to be widely heard and listened to, the Shippers Association of Lagos State might move out of the NSC headquarters this year.
Though, Farinto acknowledged that Jime’s style of administration is different from his predecessor, results have, however, nit been seen so far.
“The style of administration of the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Emmanuel Jime is different from that of his predecessor, Hassan Bello. Yes, he likes doing things quietly, but we the Shippers are yet to see the results of what he has been doing since he came onboard seven months ago.
“If Hadiza Bala Usman can come to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and start achieving in 90 days, why can the NSC Executive Secretary? He is not a green horn in the maritime industry.
“Maybe it’s too early to start rating the man, but Shippers have been treated with disdain since he came onboard. Shippers have not been given the right recognition and cooperation that is expected from an economic regulator.
“We have made a lot of complaints, but it looks as if maybe because we are a tenant at the NSC, nobody listens to us. So, maybe if we get an independent accomodation where nobody pays our rent except ourselves, maybe people in authority will listen to us more.”
On the Cargo Defence Fund, the SALS said it will collaborate with Government agencies to ensure it doesn’t become murribund like the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).
“Cargo Defence Fund is for the Shippers. It is there to help shippers cushion the effect of the harsh realities of the economy in the face of COVID-19 and other issues. This year, we will look into it to ensure it doesn’t become morribund like the CVFF,” the SALS Spokesman adde