- ‘60% of Nigeria’s Cargoes Diverted’
The Managing Director/CEO, Cowry Asset, Johnson Chukwu, has urged the Federal Government to redfuce import charges and fix the roads leading to the nation’ s sea port to facilitate trade and end cargo dicersion to ports of neighbouring countries.
He said over 60 per cent of cargoes coming to West African countries, are destined for Nigeria, but only 30 per cent of it are discharged at the sea ports because of high import charges, bad port roads and inconsistent in government policy.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos, on ‘Port Charges: How Plausible,’ at a seminar organised by the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN), Chukwu wondered why Nigeria should allow Cote d’Ivoire to build the largest seaport in Africa when a larger chunk of cargoes are destined to the country.
According to him, Nigeria is rated the largest supplier and manufacturer of cement, and wondered why there is no effort to facilitate export of the product.
He warned that if the common ECOWAS tariff is fully implemented, Nigeria will lose business because the tariff means that once a tariff is paid in one country, no other tariff would be paid in any other country in region.
In his key note address, the expert absolved the shipping companies and terminal operators of the high charges because having faced a lot of infrastructural challenges which impact negatively on their business.
“We do not have enough infrastructure to handle the volume of cargoes we receive. Sixty per cent of the cargoes coming to West Africa are destined to Nigeria. But only 30 per cent of the cargoes are discharged in Nigeria. If 60 per cent cargoes are destined to Nigeria, why should we allow Cote dÍvoire to build the largest seaport. The shorter the value chain the lower the cost”he said.
In her remarks, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman said that NPA as a regulator has a tariff price which encourages a unified charge.
Usman who was represented by the Manager Audit, Mrs. Sarah Oghomienor, however, acknowledged the fact that port charges are designed to cover operational expenses because everybody is in business to make profit.
Port charges, she said, is as a result of all deficiencies like the road infrastructure.
But the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, said that the Federal Government official gazette no 158 Marine Environment Management (sea protection levy) Regulation 2012 empowers NIMASA to impose levies on all commercially operating vessels of 100 GT and above in Nigerian waters.
Peterside who spoke through the Head Shipping Development, Mr Ogadi Anthony said that the agency introduced the Marine Environment Sea Protection Levy via the Marine Notice dated August 9, 2012.
“The Sea Protection Levy (SPL) is to be paid by all commercially operating vessels of 100 GT and above in Nigerian waters and also on all potential oil polluters, installations and pipelines,” he said.
Other maritime experts at the forum urged the Federal Government to put in place policies that will end cargo diversion and boost the economy.