Leading maritime lawyer and analyst, Mr. Emeka Akabogu has explained why the Nigeria ports are being deserted by majority of Nigerian importers for ports of neighbouring Togo and Benin Republic.
In an interview, he identified two principal factors working against the use of Nigerian ports by importers. He listed port charges and Customs duties fiscal administration as the key militating forces.
He said “Relating to port charges, am aware that the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has been working on level playing field for all stakeholders, by ensuring that terminal operators and shipping companies do not take undue advantage of Nigerians which often is seen to be the case.
“So if that can be enforced, it can help significantly to limit exodus to neighbouring ports for business by Nigerians.
Continuing, Akabogu said “But from the fiscal point of view, the regime for Customs duties and the administration of Customs duties is also very important because what happens is that many times, the Customs duties administration is not very clear or transparent and consistent with realities in the industry”.
“As a result, you find importers facing the likelihood of charges that are beyond what they can pay for their imported goods. These are the major two reasons why the go to neighbouring ports for business.
He disclosed further that the rigorous process of clearing goods can be traced to be another factor, saying “The maritime sector is a significantly revenue generating industry but it is not at that high level now”.
“Currently, the maritime sector is under served and under policied to the extend we have quite a lot of laws but not yet good policy engagements and implementations as should have translated to full potentials of the sector for the economy”, Akabogu added.