The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has directed haulage operators to reduce freight rates to decongest the nation’s seaports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking in a meeting with truck owners under the aegis of Council of Maritime Truck Union and Association (COMTUA), the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, said the truck owners must sacrifice and contribute to the sustainability of the nation’s economy during the crisis.
Nigeria, he stated, doesn’t need astronomical or unrealistic freight rate as the ports need to be decongested to forestall congestion of the seaports.
“We are here to discuss about the issue of cost, NSC has tried to bring out indicative freight rate for guidance though we are not directing you to obey that but what we are doing is what is obtainable anywhere in the world. We can’t continue to have price differentials at whims and caprice of the owners there must be some guidelines on freight rate just like we are doing with shipping companies, terminal operators and consolidators.
“Everyone must have a price regime and we are not fixing the price, we are leaving that to demand and supply but we said there must be some limit because Shippers abroad everyday make enquiries but we are at lost because no standard indicative rate. We want you to help us to have a standard rate so that there will be competition,” he said.
He said the reason for the reduction in the cost was a form of sacrifice from the truck owners, noting the agency will further engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on reduction of their charges.
Bello said: “We want you to look at the cost because everyone is making a sacrifice, the terminal operators, shipping companies have made sacrifice and we are looking at NPA and NIMASA so that they will reduce their cost during this time as their contributions to the Nigerian economy. Please don’t allow Nigeria economy to be at stand still and after the Covid-19 we dont want it to be written that it is owners of trucks that let the nation down.”
He added: “We are stakeholders’ sensitive, we appeal to your patriotic sentiment to keep people in employment, operate to the port and let’s clear the cargoes. Right now there are vessels lining up to come into the port to discharge but there is no space so, I know the usual strategy is taking empties and bring laden but we need to look at the need of the country and we need to make sacrifice, so I appeal to you to look at the cost because we don’t need astronomical or unrealistic cost and these trucks must have easier access to come in and out in a very organised manner and give them access to take already available cargoes.”
He stated that since the council and NPA have both secured storage and rent free period for importers, the haulage operators should also ensure movement of the cargoes out of the port.