The Shippers Council of Niger has abandoned a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) to ship transit cargo through Nigeria, NSC Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello, has said.
The country however considered Ghana and Cotonou ports as alternative routes to ship its cargoes.
Bello disclosed this last Friday at a seminar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Freight Forwarders Group in Lagos.
According to him, Niger Republic found it easier to transit their cargoes through ports in Ghana and Cotonou rather than Nigeria.
Bello, who was represented by NSC Assistant Director of Enforcement and Compliance, Public Service Department, Akujobi Chukwuemeka, attributed the refusal of the operators to honour the agreement with the Nigerian agency to time wasting, insecurity and poor customer service.
“If it will take them two days to clear their consignment in Cotonou while it takes them two weeks to do that in Nigeria, they will choose Cotonou.
“So, they abandoned that agreement we had with them. If you go to Shippers Council, you will still see them there but they are not doing anything,” he said.
Bello said many importers preferred to clear their cargoes through ports of neighbouring countries because of the poor customer service delivery in the seaports.
“Do the ports provide good service and in a reliable manner? Is the service consistent? What of the safety of the cargoes, security of the shipment and the issues connected to documentation? How long does it take for documentation processes to be finalised in respect of clearance of cargo?
“So, when we talk of customer service, these are small ingredients that will make a customer rate the port as an efficient one. When all these things are not there, you cannot be talking about customer service,” Bello added.
The NSC Executive Secretary pointed out that it only takes few hours to discharge oversized cargo in other ports, while in Nigeria, it takes days because the operators would need to hire equipment to perform the duty, making customers spend more days.
Besides, he mentioned that the port charges in Nigeria are also high when compared to other ports, noting that this and the usual gridlock at seaports in the country could discourage most of the customers.