Home Maritime Okwuashi faults Shippers’ Council on reversal of storage charges

Okwuashi faults Shippers’ Council on reversal of storage charges

The Rector, Certified Institute of Shipping (CIS), Rev. Prof. Alex Okwuashi has faulted the recent move by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to reverse the storage charges currently charged by the Terminal Operators to what it used to be as at May 2009 describing the action as unrealistic.
It would also be recalled that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Wednesday 29th October 2009 published an advertisement announcing the reversal of storage charges at the ports to that, which was in force as at May 1, 2009. NSC also ordered an increase in the free storage period at the port from three days to seven days.
The Council equally directed shipping companies to reduce their shipping line agency charges from N26, 500 to N23, 850 per TEU (20-foot containers) and from N48, 000 to N40, 000 per FEU (40-foot containers), even as it directed shipping agencies to refund container deposits to importers and agents within 10 working days after the return of the empty containers.
However, shortly after publishing the order which was to come into effect on 3rd November, 2014, the terminal operators under the aegis of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and shipping line agencies under the umbrella of the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA), secured an interim injunction of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos stopping the NSC and/or its agents from implementing the directive.
Okwuashi who was speaking in an interview with newsmen at the end of the 2014 annual lecture, investiture, award ceremony and commissioning of the CIS-JAMB CBT Centre at the Institute in Lagos Thursday stated that asking the terminal operators to revert to the 2009 charges six years after was practically impossible.
He opined that rather than coercing the terminal operators into reverting to old charges, NSC should have appealed to them to reduce their charges.
“First of all, let me say that the shippers’ council is not realistic. You know, provision of infrastructure we are talking about is not a Kobo thing. Why did the Federal government in the first place privatize the Nigerian ports? They did that because they discovered that the Nigerian Ports Authority cannot provide the needed infrastructure to manage an efficient port”.
“So, they called in the concessionaires and they did not give them loan to buy infrastructure, so, how do they recoup their money? And you are telling them to revert to 2009 charges, this is 2014, six years later. It is practically impossible with a lot of inflation”.
“I think that it could have been an appeal to the port operators to reduce their cost and not to go to court to retrain them. If I am involved, I will obtain an order of Mandamus of the court to quash that decision”, Okwuashi said.
He however hailed the action of the court in stopping the NSC from going ahead to implement such decision adding that,” the shippers’ council cannot arm-twist the port operators to do that but they can only plead with them to be minimal with their charges”.

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