The Chairman of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) KLT Chapter, Engr. Emmanuel Umeadi has urged the Federal Government to mete out severe sanctions on shipping companies in Nigeria, accusing them of stifling import and export business in the country.
According to the freight forwarding veteran, the problematic shipping companies include; Maersk Line, Pacific International Line (PIL), AP Moller Terminal (APMT) and Cosco Shipping Line.
Highlighting this as the major challenge to freight forwarding practice in Nigeria, the KLT Chapter boss stressed that these shipping companies didn’t have empty container holding bays, a problem which was frustrating shipping and other related activities in the country.
“Shipping companies like PIL, MAERSK Line, APMT and COSCO Shipping collect exorbitant charges yet they do nothing to facilitate trade in the country. However, in China and other countries in the world, they don’t operate this way. These companies are defrauding importers, freight forwarders and the Nigerian government” he told journalists.
Speaking further, he said; “They demand the return of empty containers and turn around to use trucks as their holding bays for weeks. For instance, as the Chairman of KLT NAGAFF Chapter, I also ship containers abroad but sometimes I could find that I’m allegedly owing these shipping companies as much as N2million. After doing my investigation, they tell me that I didn’t return three or four containers in due time, hence they accumulated demmurage to the tune of N2million”
He admonished the regulatory agencies like Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to clamp down on the overzealous shipping companies with severe sanctions.
Recall that NPA recently sanctioned some shipping companies including Maersk Line, nevertheless, Mr. Umeadi stated that the punitive measures should be more severe.
He frowned at the practice were shipping companies direct freight forwarders to move empty containers to TICT but at TICT, NPA officials would ask the truckers to move the containers to the holding bays of the shipping companies.
“The truth is that it isn’t the duty of NPA to provide these facilities. The shipping companies should have functional empty container holding bays. The traffic situation on the Lagos port access roads has degenerated to such pitiable state because of the absence of holding bays. Containers fall on the road because of this challenge and the nation is in chaos because these shipping companies aren’t adhering to the regulations of the government” he said.
Meanwhile, he lamented that some organizations like Maersk Line also intimidate freight forwarders with the aid of the Nigeria Police, noting that this trend wasn’t encouraging or facilitating business in Nigeria especially freight forwarding business.
“As far as I’m concerned these activities by multinational shipping companies are sabotaging economic activities in the country. When you find importers who were bringing in 10-15 containers few years ago now struggle to bring in 5 or fewer containers you know that there is a problem in the country. It means less revenue for government by way of Customs revenue. It is also important to note that this problem would eventually trickle down to the ordinary Nigerian who consumes the imported goods” he added.
According to Umeadi, this problem was responsible for the high cost of trucking containers from the ports. He maintained that the challenge was sufficient for any truck owner or trucking companies to hike the transport fares.