Major stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry has kicked against the formation of an association by five foreign shipping companies, stating that it’s tantamount to the formation of an organized cartel which might not help the yearning of Nigerian importers at the end of the day.
It would be recalled that five foreign shipping companies, A.P. Moller – Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express, recently announced plans to create an association with the purpose of paving the way for digitalization, standardization and interoperability in the container shipping industry.
However, speaking exclusively to the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers on the matter, National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. Tony Iju Nwabunike warned that such association might end up fixing shipping rates and charges across board for its members, and might not favour Nigerian importers.
According to the ANLCA National President, “Why are shipping comoanies talking of forming an association/ How does that help to reduce shipping charges that are already inconveniencing the common man on the streets?
“Forming an association will end up creating cartel that won’t help us that are in the import logistic chain. If they wish to form an association, government needs to ensure such association does not apply here in Nigeria because it will lead to a cartel. That might end up fixing shipping rates and charges. I am not too comfortable with this association thing by foreign shipping comoanies. I am not sure it will be beneficial to us here.”
Also speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, an importer, Mike Abulume wondered how such association will be beneficial to Nigeria as an import dependent nation. In his words, “Nigeria as an import dependent nation does not need such association for now because past antecedents of these foreign shipping companies have shown that they are only after their own pockets.
“Our government should not allow such association to be practicalised here. If they like, they can form their association anywhere, but we should not be bounded by it.
“Just imagine when CMA-CGM announced imposition of $400 congestion surcharge on all Lagos bound shipments. Are they saying henceforth, as an association, such announcement will be made across board for their members?
“In a case where a shipping company imposes arbitrary charges, as an importer, I am at liberty to choose which shipping company will freight my cargoes. But in a case where they operate as a group, my opportunity of choice of cargo freight becomes limited. So we need to aply caution here.
“Government should find out if such association won’t end up fixing charges and rates for its members, thereby boxing Nigerian importers to a tight corner as regards freight of cargoes.”
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