Shippers Association Lagos State cautions terminal operators, shipping lines against increased rates and charges  

The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has cautioned shipping lines and the terminal operators in Nigeria against violating laid down trade regulations with regards to increasing rates and charges indiscriminately.

President of the association, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said that the association would not mind increase of rates and charges if and when genuinely undertaken in agreement with the Port Economic Regulator, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

Nicol said: “Shippers are not against increase of rates and charges, neither will the Nigerian Shippers’ Council refuse genuine increase of rates and charges.

“Shippers are against violations of regulations as laid down by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.”

Nicol described a recent  announcement by PTML and Five Star Terminals and some Shipping companies to increase rates and charges in Nigeria as “ indeed a wake up call”  as he added that  “Some freight forwarders and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria’s support of the terminal operators is amazing.”

He called on the trade platform to remember that “there is a subsisting legal issue between the terminal and shipping lines in Nigeria on arbitrary charges awaiting final determination at the Supreme Court.

“The legal issues were instigated in 2014 by the terminal operators and the shipping lines, respectively. It is only right for all to maintain public peace as it relates to these issues.”

He highlighted that as port economic regulator, it is the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, as statutorily empowered, that should discuss and agree on new rates and charges to be introduced to the shippers who would eventually pay the bills.

The SALS ‘president lamented that shippers had not enjoyed business friendliness in the sector since the introduction of the port concession agreement of 2006.

He pointed out that the port concession agreement recognizes that  “stakeholders will meet and agree to any increase in Local rates and charges before implementing such.”

Nicol, however, noted that the Shippers Association Lagos State did not receive any notification in writing by the affected terminal operators of any increase, neither was any meeting held with members of SALS in that respect.

He added that “Some of the Freight Forwarders supporting this move may have forgotten that as agents, they are to protect their clients and not to commit the shippers in payment of arbitrary increases without approval from the Economic Port Regulator.

“We totally agree with the CREEPPON for their understanding. We thank all concerned for their various contributions. The environment is be deviled with enough stress.

“We are discussing with the Nigerian Shippers Council on this issue and the peak season surcharge, which again will attract freight increases between June and end of September and this should give us more concern.”

Nicol expressed hope that the matter would soon be resolved by the port economic regulator, for the interest and benefit of all.

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