How shipping companies are killing Nigerian businesses-Says Umeadi
.Calls for severe sanctions on erring firms
The Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, KLT Chapter, Engineer Emmanuel Umeadi has urged the Federal Government to impose severe sanctions on some shipping companies in Nigeria, alleging that some of them are stifling import and export businesses in the country.
According to this freight forwarding veteran, some of these shipping companies include those operating in Lagos ports currently.
Highlighting this as the major challenge to freight forwarding practice in Nigeria, the KLT Chapter boss alleged that some of these shipping companies do not have empty container holding bays, a problem that is frustrating shipping and other related activities in the country.
His words, “These shipping companies 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”.
Speaking further, he said, “They demand 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 would tell me that I didn’t return three or four containers in due time, hence they accumulated demurrage up to N2million”.
He called on regulatory agencies like Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, to clamp down on overzealous shipping companies with severe sanctions.
He recalled that NPA recently sanctioned some shipping companies, stating that the punitive measures should be 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.
He pointed out, “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 due to 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 government”.
“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 struggling 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 duty. It is also important to note that this problem would eventually trickle down to the ordinary Nigerians who consume the imported goods” he stressed.
According to Umeadi, this problem is 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.