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Exporters Seek Withdrawal Of New Terminal Charges

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The Head of Logistics,
Rubber Estates Nigeria Ltd., Mr Stephen Usih,  has urged terminal operators to withdraw new Terminal Handling Charges (THCs) on container -laden exportable goods which took effect June 1.
Usih, who said he had the mandate of other exporters to speak, made the plea in an interview with newsmen  in Lagos.
A breakdown of the new THCs shows: N40,000 on 20 ft. container and N60,000 on 40 ft. container.
He suggested that the THCs should be suspended to allow a stakeholders’ meeting of terminal operators, shipping lines, exporters and Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
“Everyone involved has to discuss on the issue to have realistic figures as terminal handling charges.
THCs are charges collected by terminal authorities at each port against handling equipment and maintenance.
Usih said that the shippers (exporters) were also paying the N4,123 as delivery charges which had to do with the loading of empty containers and off-loading of full containers.
According to him, N4,123 was charged at the exchange rate of N165 to a dollar, an equivalent of 25 dollars per container.
“If now, the current exchange rate is N350, at 25 dollars per container, exporters are still ready to pay N8,750 as delivery charges.
“Even if increased to 50 dollars per container, the exporters will still pay N17,500,’’ he said.
According to him, exporters will accept a reasonable increase in delivery charges based on the excuse given by the terminal operators about the prevailing exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.
“Considering the nature of services rendered by the terminal operators, which is to load empty containers and offload full containers, N40,000 additional charge on a 20 ft container is not justifiable,’’  Usih said.
He also requested that the payments “have to be made directly to the shipping lines as being done over the years, where payment is done at the time of collection of the Bill of Lading after departure of containers’’.
“Globally, the charges are paid after the departure of the vessel but now exporters have to pay 48 hours before the arrival of the vessels, thereby making the documentation processes more cumbersome,’’ Usih said.
He told our sources  that exporters were not ignorant of the situation of the country “but are saying that things should be done appropriately’’.
Usih said that it was the noble idea of the Federal Government to diversify the economy into non-oil exports with agricultural commodities accounting for 90 per cent of the non-oil exports.
“With the government’s quest to diversify the economy, the key thing is to make export business profitable in order to convince people to venture into it.
“With the new terminal handling charges, the objectives will not be achieved.
“It will scare away new entrants into exports. With government’s pronouncement, people have started exporting at least one container load on monthly basis.
“ An exporter who is exporting a container load of a commodity valued at N4 million per container, the maximum profit he could make is N100,000,’’ Usih said.
According to him, with the additional N40,000, the terminal operators have already removed 40 per cent of the gross profit and this will not make the export business lucrative any more.
He said that Rubber Estate Nigeria Ltd. (RENL) shipped 1,000 containers of processed rubber annually, “and you can imagine the effect the terminal handling charges would have on our company’’.
“With the new charges, this will translate to N40,000 multiplied by 1,000 containers which will make a total of N40 million to be paid by our company as terminal handling charges,’’ Usih said.
He told The Tide that the company might reduce its staff strength with the present situation.
In a reaction, a source close to the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), confirmed the introduction of the new container handling charges for exports.
The source told The Tide that since the last 10 years of port concession, terminal operators were handling containers of exportable goods free of charge.
According to the source, the free charge cannot go on forever considering the situation in the country.
He said that the newly-introduced charges on containers to be exported were still lower than what importers were paying.

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Maritime

Five Abducted MWUN Members, Three Others Regain Freedom

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The five kidnapped members of the Nigeria Maritime Workers Union, (MWUN) in Rivers State have regained their freedom from their captors.
The five maritime workers were released along with three other passengers that were kidnapped along Kula-Abonema waterway in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Monday.
.Their release was secured on Saturday evening sequel to the intervention of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, and other stakeholders.
Jamoh broke the news of their unconditional release in a statement to newsmen on Saturday night. 
The NIMASA boss, shortly after the release of the abducted five, informed the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, at about 8:15 pm through a telephone conversation.
The abductees, Jamoh said, were all in good physical condition, saying the MWUN President General would provide a detailed report on the incidents surrounding the abduction early last week.
Jamoh did not, however, disclose if any ransom was paid to the abductors before securing their release.
The Tide recalls that the eight victims, including five MWUN members, were whisked away by gunmen suspected to be sea robbers while travelling from Kula in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State to Port Harcourt for a meeting.
The hoodlums were said to have demanded for N10 million ransom to free their victims. 
But the MWUN leadership in Rivers State vowed not to pay any ransom to the abductors of its five staff, and instead demanded for their unconditional release.
The union chairman, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, had given a 30-day ultimatum to the kidnappers to free its members, failure of which, the union would shut down all maritime operations in the state.
“In one month, if they are not released, we will shut down all maritime operations in the state”, he had threatened. 

By: Chinedu Wosu

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Maritime

IMO Vows To Stop Piracy In GoG

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A global agency, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has vowed to stop the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). 
The organisation noted that the continuous activities of piracy and armed robbery along the Gulf of Guinea were capable of crippling international shipping in the region. 
According to IMO, piracy and other criminal activities along GoG damage the world economy and trade.
The Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, who stated this during the inaugural meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction conference (GoG-MCF/SHADE, said, he was encouraged by the establishment of the forum.
“This situation has continued for several years and these illegal acts must be stopped. Now is the time to make real progress”, he said 
 Lim said IMO would continue to support training and other capacity-building activities for Gulf of Guinea states as well as assist cooperative regional efforts under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
The Yaounde Code of Conduct is an agreement signed by countries in the region that commit to working to repress piracy and armed robbery against shipping activities.
The secretary insisted that the security situation in the GoG remains at the top of the organisation.
He said that the GoG-MCF/SHADE was aimed at facilitating shared awareness and de-conflicting activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advanced and coordinated maritime security activities.
Lim acknowledged the positive strides in the area of inter-agency cooperation and response on a regional and international level, especially the anti-piracy legislation passed by Ghana, recent convictions of pirates in Togo, and Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project.
“At the request of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, IMO continues to work with the ICC Yaoundé, including supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organisations”, he said.

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Maritime

Seafarers Lament Effects Of Covid-19

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA)  says the impact of Coronavirus pandemic, also known as Covid-19, in the country is negatively affecting the welfare of seafarers in the sector.
The union noted that the pandemic had created huge unemployment and forced investors to abandon the maritime sector.
The newly elected treasurer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Rivers State, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, disclosed this during an interview with The Tide.
Comrade Jonah regretted that the pandemic had crippled maritime activities globally, saying most ship owners and management have abandoned shipping activities, thereby affecting the welfare of seafarers.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had created unemployment amongst crew members in the sector as ship owners refused to engage certified seafarers on board vessels.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many investors in the marine sector to abandon their business as most sea vessels were stranded on the sea for months without discharging their cargoes.
“The impact of the pandemic is hitting harder on the welfare of the seafarers and their families.
“Investors in the marine sectors are no longer coming into the country to invest due to the global pandemic”, he said.
Jonah whose maritime activities span through eight states including Lagos, Kogi, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta, called for prayers to salvage the maritime sector.

By: Chinedu Wosu

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