High expectations by stakeholders that the October 1, 2013 takeoff of the downward reviewed three percent benchmark freight levy on imports and exports in the country would crash the cost of shipping in Nigeria might be a ruse, as experts say the review was only designed to favour multinational shipping companies operating in Nigeria.
Section 15 of the Nigerian Maritime and Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act 2007 provides that the agency shall be funded from three percent of gross freight on all international inbound and outbound cargo from ships or shipping companies operating in Nigeria, among others.
The Federal Government had in August, fixed October 1, as the effective date for the commencement in the implementation of the reviewed three percent freight levy, which was believed would crash the cost of shipping in the country, believed to be the highest in the West and Central African sub-region.
National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Chief Eugene Nweke, who spoke against the background of the proposed takeoff, faulted government’s argument that the review would reduce the cost of shipping in the country.
According to him, the review was basically designed to favour the multinational shipping firms and their agencies, as it was meant to increase their calls at Nigeria’s seaport.
“The review is not expected to have any direct impact on shippers, it is rather designed to be an incentive to the multinational shipping firms operating in Nigeria”, he had insisted.
He also disclosed that he drew the attention of the Minister of Transport, Mallam Idris Umar on the lopsided nature of Nigeria’s international trade transactions, which are tilted in favour of the shipping companies to the detriment of the Nigerian shipping public.
He also said: “The Nigerian shipper is on his own, he does not have the capacity to regulate freight rates with the foreign shipping companies, who have everything at their whims and caprices”.
The NAGAFF-boss argued that the Nigerian shipper pays the freight rates dictated by the foreign shipping firms, regretting that even the globally standardized three-day grace, which should be granted to the shipper by the shipping line is not clearly defined in Nigeria as the commencement date of the grace period.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.