Importers and freight forwarders have commended the management of Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) for intervening in over 150 trade issues between last year and this year, and resolving some in favour of importers and exporters in the country.
Importers and customs agents who spoke to THISDAY said they would have suffered great losses that would have ruined their businesses, if not for the intervention of the Council.
An importer, Chief Jones Ukodie, told THISDAY in Lagos at the weekend that when his company imported some perishable goods, they were almost lost due to illegal charges raised at one of the terminals.
Ukodie said when it became obvious that he was going to lose the container due to what he described as outrageous demand from the shipping company and terminal operator (names withheld), he decided to take the matter to the Council.
According to him, the intervention of the Council led to the terminal operator and shipping company rescinding its decision on the charges imposed on the container. He said the charges were reduced drastically.
Similarly, customs agents who spoke to THISDAY explained that some terminal operators and shipping companies have to reduce demurrage charges imposed on consignments following the intervention of the Council.
One of the agents, Mr. Mike Ochei, said following the Council’s intervention, the demurrage imposed on his goods was reduced by half, adding that this was a good development. Ochei accused some of the terminal operators and shipping companies of deliberately over-charging Nigerian importers because of their helpless situation.
He said the fact that importers were always in a hurry to take delivery of their goods, and that has made them to suffer so many trade abuses by the service providers.
Ochei commended the management of the Shippers Council for intervening in their various ordeals at the ports.
The Council had between this year and last year received over 150 complaints, and was able to resolve some of the cases, which led to the recovery of several millions of naira for the importers.
This year alone, its intervention has also led to the importers saving several millions of Naira. The Council, which protects the interest of shippers statutorily, encourages importers and exporters to forward any case of trade abuse against them by either shipping companies or terminal operators to them for redress.
The Council also helps the shippers to pursue legal matters where the issue is not resolved between the importer and the shipping company, or terminal operator. In cases, where the importers is not able to pursue certain cases overseas against his suppliers or shipping company or trade partner, the Council is also involved in assisting the importer not to be denied his legal right.
Freight forwarders are of the view that given the roles played by the Council, it should be accorded full rights to transform as the commercial regulator in the ports industry.
President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nweke, recently said it would be a good development for the Council to be appointed as ports regulator, so as to enjoy the constitutional powers to check arbitrariness in the ports.
Nweke said shippers, freight forwarders and other individuals in the movement of cargoes out of the ports were desirous of an “agency that will come in-between; that will serve as a mediator over trade dispute”.
“In this case, Shippers Council, looking at its enabling Act has been conferred with the power to protect the interest of the Nigerian shippers, and with long term standing experience, we know that they will do better than any other agency. That is why freight forwarders and importers are running around them to ensure that they play this major role that is vital to the interest of Nigerian shippers”, he said.