Senator Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah has moved a motion on the urgent need to checkmate  exorbitant increase and unjustifiable shipping fees charged by shipping companies on Nigerian bound cargoes.

Senator Ubah on the floor of the Senate today argued that Nigeria is an import driven economy with excessive dependence on imports for consumption and capital goods. He stated  that the shipping industry, is key in facilitating continuity of economic activities in the country by ensuring sustained supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods.

Senator Ubah raised  concerns over vessels coming to Nigerian ports and the attendant long queue, when compared to other countries. He also raised further concern regarding the fact that the cost of shipping goods into Nigerian ports is the highest in the world, with the figure for Apapa Port costing more than thrice to that of Tema, Ghana, and five times higher than Durban port in South Africa. 

He expressed worry over the fact that a report on overseas cargo and freight costs by Mover DB; an online resource for international shipping shows that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos is among the most expensive globally. The report covers the shipping costs from 47 ports globally; these astronomic and unjustifiable charges are so high that importers in most cases abandon their cargoes in the port thereby making the NPA lose revenue, hence reducing the efficiency/turnaround of ships to Nigerian ports.

 He said that a close look at charges in other countries shows;

Ghana - $3,200 from China

Cotonou - $3,000 from China

Nigeria - $8,500 from $3,200 few months ago.

He averred that this has caused unjust hardship for Nigerians as importers transfer expenditure to both traders and consumers. It will be recalled that in May 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was acting President at the time signed an Executive Order directing 24hours operations at the Apapa ports and outlawing unofficial charges at the ports. This order was aimed at improving the ease of doing business and reducing the high costs at the ports. But available statistics suggest that these unjustifiable charges and extortion by shipping agencies have continued till date. 

Sadly, the imposition of these exorbitant charges on Nigerian bound cargoes by shipping companies was introduced at a time when the nation is still trying to get out of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He therefore expressed worry that the arbitrary introduction of excessive shipping charges will strangulate Nigerian importers, and if we do not rise up and defend our nation from this economic sabotage, this development can cause a spiral inflation rate on our economy.

Based on the points raised, by Senator Ubah, the Senate resolved to mandate the committee on Marine Transport to engage with the stakeholders in the Shipping Industry and Nigeria Ports Authority with a view to proffer solutions to this matter.

He said that It's his expectation that the committee and stakeholders will ensure holistic compliance of this prayer/directive.