VICE President Yemi Oshibanjo has decried the imposition of arbitrary high charges by shipping lines in West and Central African countries.
He also urged the Union of African Shippers Council to adopt common political and diplomatic strategies to check the operations of shipping lines servicing the ports in the sub-region.
Prof Osinbanjo who spoke yesterday in Abuja while declaring open the sub-regional summit on unfair shipping surcharges and high local shipping charges at the ports of West African sub-region, said some of the charges were unnecessary.
He listed the charges to include bunker adjustment factor, currency adjustment factor, war risk surcharge, confession sub charges, peak season surcharges, extra risk insurance sub charge, freight rate surcharge, and port operation recovery surcharge.
He said the surcharges amounted to huge sums of illegal capital flight from the countries of the sub-region and has been depleting the countries foreign reserves. He also said data obtained from the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) showed that about N2billion is repatriated by multi-national shipping firms from reasonable of demurrage charges for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in each quarter of the year.
Attributing the poor transport infrastructure development to one of the reasons for the high port charges, he urged AU member-states to prioritise the development of transport infrastructure for the work-ability of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, also condemned the unilateral manner in which service providers introduce and increase freight rates in the sub-region through various surcharges.
He said the Gederal Government, through its partnership with the Global Shippers Forum (GSF), has started checking claims of terrorism, piracy, armed attacks on ships and other negative activities in the Gulf of Guinea to increase charges and introduce more surcharges in Nigeria