By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: Following the effect of transport charges on the economies of African Countries, the Chief Executive, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello has pointed out the need for shippers’ councils to represent shippers in cost negotiations.
Bello who stressed that the cost of transportation is 40% more in Africa than in any other region, said that it is important to look at these costs in a very scientific manner and negotiate them appropriately.
The NSC helmsman who said these on the sideline of the Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) Sub-Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committees Meeting, Wednesday in Abuja, noted that the union is working out plans for shippers’ councils to represent the shippers, adding that shippers should be able to take part in the negotiations of these costs.
According to him, “We are not price-fixing organisations but we should also have moderation on the cost, the lower the cost of transportation, the more the economy grows. We have the cost of production, transport being substantial in the cost of production.
“What we are saying is, these surcharges, are they really justified, are they really tied to services that are rendered? The shippers have the right to ask what the components are, what premium are we paying, we want to know the component of these, we are a partner in the trade and that should be very important.
“We want to be part of decision-making as preferred by Niger republic. Decision making, we are out of it and we have to be part of it,” he emphasized.
He said that it was a common consensus among all the 15 countries present, that these costs should be reasonably priced, stating also that even more importantly, Nigerians, Togolese, Gabonese, Ghanaians, Nigeriens, and all African countries should participate in the negotiations.
On what the NSC has been doing to reduce transportation cost, he said, “We are looking at many things, in Nigeria for example, Nigeria Shippers’ Council is negotiating with the shipping lines, it has been going on for quite a while but we are soon to arrive at a consensus, and if we do sign the Memorandum of Understanding, it is expected that we will achieve 30-35% reduction in shipping charges by the shipping lines.
“They have demonstrated enough good will and we have done the same also and if we come together, we can negotiate local shipping charges but now we are talking of international charges including freight,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, The Sight News gathered that the Standing Committee had a mandate to deal with issues relating to incident of cost in West and Central African economies as it relates to transportation.
Four issues were discussed during the meeting and these include; Issues of arbitrary charges levied on transport service providers; The need to carry out a study or training on freight rate; 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 the issue of transit rate to land connected countries.
Speaking to The Sight News,the Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC, Cajetan Agu, stated that the Committee members agreed on the need to engage the multinational shipping lines on the imposition of arbitrary charges, so as to know the component of freight rate they are paying.
Also, he noted that the need to obtain reliable data to give the power to engage the multinational shipping companies were deliberated on and UASC was given the mandate to collect and collate data relating to freight charges in the west and central African countries.
“We have also contacted a group of experts and we agreed unanimously that we would do that. We also discussed the need to deploy technology on the issue of transit rate and transportation,” he said.
The UASC Sub-Regional Summit on Unfair Shipping Surcharges and High Local Shipping Charges at the Ports of West and Central African Region started in Abuja from August 26-28, 2019.