Stakeholders Commend FG’s Intervention over High Charges

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Eromosele Abiodun
The Marine Club of Nigeria (MCN), Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) and other maritime stakeholders have commended the federal government over its intervention on a lingering high charge practices against ship owners plying the Nigerian territorial waters.

Also, they commended the management of Elshcon Nigeria Limited, an Integrated Maritime Logistics and Fabrication Company for- drawing the attention of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to this practice.

The bodies acknowledged that the maritime industry in Nigeria would have suffered a great loss had it not been for the timely intervention of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Elshcon, recently alerted the Nigerian Ports Authority of an ongoing practice which made ship owners in Nigeria abandon the country’s ship yards to patronise those of other African countries due to persistent high fees foist on them to pay.

The company had sought to tow its 4000-Gross Tonnage off-shore barge to the Lagos dry dock for repair, being the only ship yard that has the capacity to handle such a big vessel.

However, the company in a statement said it discovered that despite the fact that the voyage was for repair and not for commercial or trading purpose, it was still required to pay the same full ship dues that commercial voyage ships pay, a development, it added, informed the decision of ship owners in Nigeria to head to ports located outside the country such as Tema Port, Ghana, Namibia Port, among others, to repair their ships.

Uncomfortable with this trend, Elshcon said it alerted the Nigerian Ports Authority of the development via a letter dated 28th May, 2018 which NPA replied in its own letter dated 6th August 2019, appreciating the company’s observation and immediately making drastic changes.

The company quoted the NPA letter to have stated: “With respect to vessels coming for dry-docking and maintenance but not making any operational movements, the volume conversion and interpolation of GRT shall not be applicable on such operations…vessels that have made first entry into any Nigerian Port and re-enters any other Port on the same voyage (such as service boats) shall pay the following rates and these rates are also applicable for vessels coming for repairs and maintenance: (1). Ship Dues $0.938 * 8GRT + 1176. (2). $160.89 Per Voyage (This is in addition to 1 above.).”

Commending the federal government for the timely intervention as well as the management of Elshcon Nigeria Limited for bringing the issue to the notice of the NPA, the stakeholders noted that the new measures would be beneficial to both the maritime industry and the local ship yards in the country.

“This feat is one to which the maritime industry and the local ship yards shall remain grateful for, as it serves as a win-win situation for all parties affected, ”they said.