The federal government has announced that it will not accept any further increase in tariff at the nation's seaports.
In a yet to be published circular obtained by THISDAY, titled, "Public Notice to Terminal Operators, Shipping Companies and Other Regulated Service Providers in the Port Sector," the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) said it will not accept any tariff increase that will put more burden on shippers and consumers.
It warned that any service provider that unilaterally increases its charges/rates would be blacklisted and sanctioned accordingly.
According to the NSC, "It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Shippers Council that some terminal operators and shipping companies have published notices of proposed increase in tariff.
"The NSC is not aware of any upward review in charges to accommodate certain economic trends in the country.
"However, any such review must be negotiated and approved by the NSC in line with the provisions of the Nigeria Shippers Council Act CAP N133 Law of the Federation (LPN) 2004 and its subsidiary regulations: Nigeria Shippers Council (Local Shipping Charges on Imports and Exports), Regulation 1997, Nigeria Shippers Council (Port Economic Regulator) October 2015 and Nigeria Shippers Council (Port Economic) Regulations 2015."
The NSC added that any such charges needs to be subjected to analysis with justification to ensure such increase reflects the present economic realities, "and the charges must be directly related to quality of service."
"It is pertinent to note that certain service providers are already negotiating with the Nigeria Shippers Council in line with established guidelines and the Nigeria Shippers Council will also not unnecessarily delay the process and approval," it added.
It stated that, "In view of the above, any service provider that unilaterally increases its charges/rates will be blacklisted and sanctioned accordingly.
"Port users are advised to ignore any such unauthorised increase in charges. Note that henceforth the Nigeria Shippers Council will only deal with regulated service providers on individual basis to enhance service delivery at the ports."
This is coming as freight forwarding associations at the Ports and Terminal Multipurpose Limited (PTML) Terminal, Tin Can Island Port Complex, Lagos, have expressed support for the review of handling charges at the terminal by 50 per cent.
PTML is the biggest roll-on-roll-off (RORO) terminal in Nigeria, handling a sizable chunk of vehicles imported into the country.
In a joint communiqué issued after a meeting with the Managing Director of PTML, Ascanio Russo, and his management team, the major freight forwarding associations said special consideration must be given to PTML because it has not reviewed its charges for almost a decade.
They also argued that the terminal operator must be supported to generate sufficient income to sustain the high quality service being rendered at the facility.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) led by its PTML chapter Chairman, Samuel Obe and Sunny Ugorji; the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) represented by its PTML chapter chairman, George Okafor and Thomas Alor, while Emma Ohambele and Chinedum Ogueke represented the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN).
The joint communiqué read: "That the initial plan of 100 per cent from Grimaldi was considered but due to the effect it will bear on the importer it was agreed for 50 per cent increase.
"After a thorough explanation from the management of Grimaldi Agency (owners of PTML Terminal) on the urgent need for this increase, 50 per cent was considered to be reasonable.
"That the acceptance of this increase is based on the ever increasing high cost of operations as can be seen by everyone in the industry. Grimaldi undertake to increase their drive towards the provision of world class logistics services to Nigeria and to provide more equipment and human management urgently where it is required."
They added, "Grimaldi assured the stakeholders that once they get the promised rebate from Nigerian Ports Authority as promised during the COVID-19 peak period, more provisions of equipment will be made that will lead to reduction in operational cost.
"The management of Grimaldi thanked all stakeholders for this deliberations and understanding. The representatives of the various associations enjoin members to go about their business peacefully as always and are assured that subsequently no increment will be made at the command without an interactive meeting."