The Federal Government of Nigeria has directed the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to carry out a comprehensive audit of all seaport terminals in the country.
The government also decried the arbitrarily high shipping charges in West and Central Africa sub-region and called for a downward review of the charges to promote trade among countries in the sub-region.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo gave the directive in Abuja at the opening session of a three-day sub-regional summit on ‘Unfair Shipping Surcharges and High Local Shipping Charges at the Ports of West and Central Africa Sub-region’ hosted by the NSC.
He said, “The Federal Government has mandated the NSC in her capacity as the port economic regulator to carry out a comprehensive audit of all seaport terminals in Nigeria to ascertain their efficiency and competitiveness.
“Government will ensure that the outcome of the audit report will be fully implemented for improved port operation. The report of the audit will also spell out the responsibilities of terminals and the Federal Government.”
Osinbajo who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, added, “Similarly, the council is further mandated to monitor and supervise compliance to the standard operating procedures by all port agencies and port service providers for improved service delivery.”
While noting that the government was aware of the disturbing cost of transportation of goods through the ports in the sub-region, he said, “The process of introduction of these surcharges lacks transparency and are not based on verifiable and available statistics,” the vice-president stated.
He noted that the unilateral and arbitrary imposition of such surcharges in West and Central Africa-bound cargo was contradictory to the norms and ethics of maritime transport.
Osinbajo said, “These surcharges amount to huge sums of illegal capital flight from countries of the sub-region depleting their limited foreign exchange and reserves.”