Business Hilights
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Operating costliest ports in W’Africa pushing importers to neighbours—Bello

The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello, has opened up on reasons why neighbouring ports have been attracting key Nigerian import business and shipping vessels.

Speaking in Abuja in an interview, he said part of the issues that caused Nigeria the tag of costliest ports to do business in West Africa aside catalogue of port charges has remained cost of freight forwarding by several shipping lines.

He said his leadership at the NSC has started reaching out to the shippers to cut down their charges which had been as high as 30 percent.

According to him, “Nigeria imports a lot of goods, and whatever levies are imposed on imported goods are transferred to the consumers, resulting to the higher inflation rate.”

He said his current crusade now is to work out a streamlining of shipping charges in a way and manner that will encourage Nigerian businesses to patronise Nigeria-bound vessels.

“We are talking with the terminal operators, who will talk to the carriers, government, freight forwarders, chambers of commerce, manufacturers association, and other stakeholders to discuss this.

Bello also pointed out that whereas shippers are being talked to have a rethink; government also has the responsibility of providing basic infrastructure at the ports such as good road network, adequate security among others, to reduce the charges.

Explaining some of the issues that cost shippers fortunes, Shippers’ Council boss revealed that “Shipping companies collect security charges because they employ additional security for their ships despite that the Nigerian Navy, and Nigerian Maritime Security Agency (NIMASA), are doing a lot to provide security at the ports.

”The Council has been negotiating with shipping companies, and hopefully, by the end the negotiations, about 30 per cent of the shipping cost would have been reduced.

Business Hilights recalls that only recently, African maritime countries began drive to renegotiate freight charges to a reasonable, justified and verified level so as to grow ease of doing business at ports.