Importers Suffer Increased Costs with Charter Agreement Removal

Nigerian importers may face increased importation costs with the removal of Nigeria from the standard charter party contract by Greece.

The development was due to the unfavourable business environment in the country.

In a chat with the PUNCH in Lagos on Monday, the President of the Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria, Emmanuel Maiguwa, blamed insecurity in the maritime domain and the harsh policy of the government as reasons for the development.

Maiguwa explained that for any vessels to come to Nigerian ports now, the importer must be ready to spend more.

He said: “I think you need to understand it from the foundation. The basic thing you have to understand is that the Greek market represents about 70 per cent of the global haulage. Now the Greek market entirely removed Nigeria from the standard charter party contract due to this hostility. When I say hostility, I am referring to both insecurity and harsh policy. Corruption is among other factors that made the environment hostile.”

Explaining the implication of the decision of Greece on the country, he said: “It means if anybody will allow his vessels to come in the standard charter party, the standard hire rate will not apply. For instance, if a vessel wants to come to Nigeria, instead of paying like N 5 for example, the vessel will now pay N10.”

The MSPAN president reiterated that with this development, Nigeria’s bond cargoes might have to stop at Togo and the importers would make other arrangements to bring them down to Nigeria.

The maritime security expert, who disclosed that this had been the trend for a while urged the government to ensure a favorable maritime environment for foreign ships coming into Nigeria.

“The government should be able to look into these issues that are affecting foreign ships coming to Nigeria because we have lost sight of what it means to be a friendly nation to international shipping. Everyone is looking for revenue but no one understands that there is a need to attract international ships to come into our waters so that we can actually improve in business. All maritime businesses are almost dead in Nigeria”, he said.

Also speaking, the Director-General of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Mrs. Vivian Chimezie-Azubuike, said: “With all these policies we are not going to make the business environment favorable. You know when we are talking about ease of doing business; we should actually look at all these factors. It is important that we engage the stakeholders to be part of the negotiation table and part of the decisions that they make.”

Meanwhile, frontline shipper, Jonathan Nicol, said: “Doing business in Nigeria has never been cheap, and don’t forget this is peak season for shipping lines. And normally when they are in their peak season the freight goes until November. If they have actually removed Nigeria from the charter agreement, Nigerian importers may have to pay higher to pick their cargoes. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation, this is why I always say they should put our economic policies right. Once they do that right, then every other thing will fall in place.”