Members of the Shippers Association of Lagos and Rivers states have called for a review of various tariffs being charged on freight. The shippers who spoke in separate interviews also said they deserved to be treated better than they were being treated.
They said that the tariffs on goods were too high and there was a need to review them. They projected that the shipping sector could conveniently accommodate four million jobs if given the necessary encouragement from the government.
According to the President, Shippers Association of Lagos State, Mr. Jonathan Nicole, the major challenge facing the sector is high tariff. “Even what is called second hand materials, how much do they buy those goods abroad? Nigerians never patronized second hand goods in the past, but they are forced to do that because of the current economic situation.
“So the tariff on second hand materials is hopelessly high. When the tariffs are high, how do you sell the goods? Because of the cost of clearing, most industries have full warehouse of goods. People don’t have money. The prices of the goods have gone up compared to what they used to be; so they have said they can do without these goods.
“This is why we have always said we have bottlenecks in trade liberalisation. It is necessary as a people to have an enabling system of doing business. All over the world, people think about their people and I think your people should come first before the regulations. So, we should be able to plan 10 to 15 years ahead because the maritime sector is self-servicing and the people who making it tick are the shippers.”
The President, Shippers Association of Rivers State, Ofon Udofa, said that crime rate would reduce in the riverine area if the government paid greater attention to the shipping sector.
“Even youth crime will reduce because when the port is viable and the youths are busy, nobody would want to engage in crime. It is when the port is idle and a lot of the youths are not busy that they take anything they see,” he said.