Shippers say Nigeria may lose more cargoes to ports in neighbouring countries if federal government insists on a policy to store and transport goods on pallets as a unit.
Nicodemus Odolo, on the board of trustees of the Shippers Association of Lagos State, reacting to reacting to the Revised Import Guidelines from the Federal Ministry of Finance that shipping lines shall ensure that Nigeria-bound containerised cargo are palletized.
He said, "Not all cargos need to be palletised, there should be exceptions; the ministry should let shippers choose whether to palletise a cargo or not.
"At present, Nigerian shippers are operating at about 40 per cent below their capacity.
"Many Nigerian shippers have relocated to other countries to do their business because of the unfavourable policies by the government which have resulted in high cost of doing business in Nigeria but with less profit.
"Whoever advised the government about palletisation of all goods is not a friend of the shippers because this policy only favours the foreign shipping lines," he said.
According to him, the quantity of goods which ought to go into the container will be reduced as a result of pallets taking up spaces, which simultaneously will increase the amount of container used to ship the goods.
Odolo also said that this would increase the cost of freight to the benefit of the foreign shipping lines.
"Nigerian ports do not have the infrastructure to handle the planned upsurge in cargoes and increasing containers in the already congested ports will result in shippers paying more demurrage and freight.
"If it is an international agreement, Nigeria should take a decision that is suitable to her economy and the citizens and not adopt all policies formulated by the developed countries.
"This is how the developed countries plan to keep the undeveloped nations perpetually under-developed.
"They enact policies that are favourable to them but unfavourable to the under-developed nations and continued to exploit them.
"If the government wants to increase the number of cargoes in the ports, it should put in place adequate infrastructure," Odolo said.
He said our ports should have 24-hour uninterrupted electricity, good road network, modern cargo handling equipment, security, modern truck terminals and new trucks.
The shipper said that these would make the cost of cargo handling cheaper in Nigeria than in the neighbouring countries.
Odolo also said that bank interest rate should be reduced as well as import duty tariff on some imported items.