Nigeria importers have criticised the huge surcharge imposed on them by the international shipping firms on cargoes imported from across the world.

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According to the importers, these surcharges have heightened the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports, on top of perennial challenges of infrastructure dearth and an inefficient shipping process rocking the sector.

The importers blamed a German container shipping firm, Hapag-Lloyd, which imposed a revised Peak Season Surcharge on all container types making its way into Tin Can Island and Apapa ports in Lagos nine months ago.

It was gathered that about $1025 surcharge was slammed on 20ft and 40ft containers on cargoes coming from the United States and US territories, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Charges from cargoes from the rest of the world are also pegged at $1025 or EUR 930.

The charges are different from the ocean tariff rates as well as bunker-related surcharges, security-related surcharges, terminal handling charges, among others that shore up the cost of shipping in Nigeria.

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The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, described the act as insensitive and vowed to oppose it.

He said, “We are protesting against it vehemently. There was no notice to us and the shippers that the charge was imminent.

“It is insensitive. Just when the Nigerian economy is recovering a little bit from the effect of COVID-19, it is insensitive for anybody to slam such charges of over $1,000 on Nigeria’s trade.

“It is discriminatory because it is not happening in Togo, Benin or Ghana; why should it be in Nigeria?

“We have written a strong letter to the shipping association of Nigeria and we also wrote to their principals overseas because this is not a local charge.”

The Chairman, Shippers Association Lagos State, Jonathan Nichol and President, Importers Association of Nigeria, Kingsley Chikezie, said they would take up the matter with the appropriate agencies.