Aminat Isah, Abuja

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello has emphasized the need for cost of transportation by shipping in the West African Sub-region to be addressed from a scientific manner.

The ES stated this as the Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) Sub-Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committees Meeting, comes to a close on Wednesday in Abuja, saying that the the impact of unscientific charges of transportation cost has a great effects on Africa’s economy.

According to Bello, the cost of transportation in Africa is 40percent more in the African region than in any other region of the world, hence the need for scientific outlook for a proper negotiation.

“The cost if transportation is 40% more in Africa region than in any other region. It is important we look at this cost in a very scientific manner and be able to negotiate them appropriately .

“We are not price fixing organisations but we should also have moderation on the cost,”

He also noted that a low cost of transportation would result in a faster growth of the economy, while a higher cost would result in inflationary economy.

“We have the cost of production, transport being substantial in the cost of production. In our manufacturing sector, there is so many things to be done, there is no incentives. If we have high cost, the cost will ultimately be pushed to the final consumer , you and I and that means inflationary.

He revealed that there is a common consensus among all the 15 countries that in attendance that costs should be reasonably priced, even more important Nigerians, hence Togolese, Gabonese, Ghanianas, and all African countries should participate in the negotiations.

He further explained that some of the charges are arbitrarily and unilaterally levied because there is no information on the components of charges.

“We don’t know how these charges were arrived , we don’t have the information, and so we are going to arrive on are on a quest to know what inform all these charges. We have a consensus that some of these charges are not verified , they are unsubstantiated, and they are not arrived at with the economic indicators, and how things are priced in the economy especially international trade and transportation should be scientifically arrived at. So that’s what the union is thinking now that shippers council should represent the shippers and shippers should be involved in the negotiations of these cost.

“We are looking at many things in terms of price reduction , this negotiation has been going on for quite a while , but we are soon to be arriving at that consensus, and we do sign that Memorandum of Understanding, it is expected that 30-35% reduction should be charged by the shipping lines and that is why we are having enough good will, that is why we have also demonstrated that and if we come together we would negotiate local surcharge , talking of international charges including freight.

“That is the cost of goods on ocean parts of the , and we are also saying surcharges and when we are saying surcharges, are they really justified, are they really tied to charges that are meant to be charged, if for example my country is not at war, and you are charging me as if it is , and you slam war risk clause on the cargo coming to Nigeria, the shippers have the right to ask , and what are the complaints , what premium are we paying, we want to know the component of this, we want to be a part and partner in the trade. That should be very important,” Said Bello

Cajetan Agu, Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC on his part said the mandate given to the committee is to deal with issue relating to incident of cost in west and African economies as it relates to transportation.

According to him, four issues were discussed during the meeting today, first being the issues of arbitrary charges levied on transport service providers; the second issues around the need to carry out a study or training on freight rate ; issues around the need to constitute an expert group of the union of African shippers council to engage the multinational shipping companies on the issue of freight rate and surcharges; and lastly issues of transit rate to land connected countries.

Explaining on the issue of imposition of arbitrary charges, Cajetan said it was deliberated upon and all committee members agreed on the need to engage the multinational shipping lines, saying that if shippers are paying the freight, they should know the component they are paying.

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