Shippers Association of Lagos State has said Nigeria may lose more cargoes to ports in neighbouring countries if the Federal Government insists on its policy of palletisation of cargoes in containers.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that palletisation is a method of storing and transporting goods stacked on pallets and shipped as a unit load.
A member of the board of trustees of the association, Nicodemus Odolo, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos of the likely loss Nigeria might record from the planned policy.
Odolo was reacting to the Revised Import Guidelines from the Federal Ministry of Finance that shipping lines should ensure that Nigeria-bound containerised cargo were palletised.
He said, “Not all cargos need to be palletised, there should be exceptions; the ministry should let shippers choose whether to palletise a cargo or not.
“At present, Nigerian shippers are operating at about 40 percent below their capacity. Many Nigerian shippers have relocated to other countries to do their business because of the unfavourable policies by the government, which have resulted in high cost of doing business in Nigeria but with less profit.
“Whoever advised the government about palletisation of all goods is not a friend of the shippers because this policy only favours the foreign shipping lines.”
According to Odolo, the quantity of goods, which ought to go into the container, will be reduced as a result of pallets taking up spaces, which simultaneously will increase the amount of container used to ship the goods.
This would increase the cost of freight to the benefit of the foreign shipping lines, he said, saying, “Nigerian ports do not have the infrastructure to handle the planned upsurge in cargoes and increasing containers in the already congested ports will result in shippers paying more demurrage and freight.
“If it is an international agreement, Nigeria should take a decision that is suitable to her economy and the citizens and not adopt all policies formulated by the developed countries.
“This is how the developed countries plan to keep the undeveloped nations perpetually under-developed. They enact policies that are favourable to them but unfavourable to the under-developed nations and continued to exploit them.
“If the government wants to increase the number of cargoes in the ports, it should put in place adequate infrastructure.”
He said our ports should have 24-hour uninterrupted electricity, good road network, modern cargo handling equipment, security, modern truck terminals and new trucks.
The shipper said that these would make the cost of cargo handling cheaper in Nigeria than in the neighbouring countries, and bank interest rate should be reduced as well as import duty tariff on some imported items.
He, however, commended the government for introducing Executive Orders on 24-hour operation at the ports and the reduction of government agencies involved in cargo clearance.
Odolo urged the government to improve infrastructure and provide the right equipment for port operations.