The management of the Associated Port Marine Development Company (APMDC), has denied allegations of arbitrary charges and charging in foreign currency levelled against it by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
Recall that the Council had shut down the company’s terminal over allegations of non-compliance with regulatory directives and other arbitrary charges.
The council further alleged that APMDC had been issued several notices to address infractions ranging from charging in foreign exchange to non-compliance with approved nomenclature of charges such as transport adjustment charges, non-vessel-operating carriers, outright disregard of terms of mediation reached at NSC and unresolved complaints of over one and half years, among others.
However, in a press statement made available to journalists, APMDC Group Head, Human Resources and Public Affairs, Mr. Olise-Emeka Nwachukwu, said its charges are not arbitrary but operate one of the most competitive tariffs in the market.
According to the statement signed by Nwachukwu, the company said its charges structure is determined by the high cost of delivering groupage containers from discharge ports or off docks to its bonded terminal/warehouse.
He further explained that Transport Adjustment Factor-TAF being a bill back costs, is one example of excessive costs of delivering groupage containers to her bonded warehouse/terminal.
According to the statement, “APMDC charges structure is determined by the high cost of delivering groupage containers from discharge ports or off docks to its Bonded Terminal/Warehouse. Transport Adjustment Factor-TAF being a bill back costs, is one example of excessive costs of delivering our groupage containers to our bonded warehouse/terminal. APMDC is an experienced Nigerian-Global Shipping/Logistics player with over 16years of extensive trading knowledge in the Nigerian Maritime.”
He said the company’s record of integrity is impeccable adding that it has contributed a lot to the Nigerian economy.
“Apart from providing employment to Nigerians, the taxes our industry players pay to both Local, State and Federal Governments, our businesses units are also revenue channels for the Nigerian Economic through billions to trillions of naira that are generated yearly via Customs import duties/taxes and levies hence we are major economic contributors, therefore, we should be applauded instead of being maligned. APMDC makes bold to say that, we are contributors to the over one trillion-naira revenue generated recently declared by Customs for the first half of the year and cannot be tagged as economic saboteurs, “he said.
He said the NSC’s action is subjudice and the matter is currently pending at an appellate court.
“It is important to note that NSC shutting down the activities of APMDC, acted in flagrant disregard of the pending case at the Court of Appeal where these contending issues are before the honourable court, “he said.
Speaking on the company’s charging in foreign currency, APMDC boss said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in 2015 grouped their operation among one of the services that can charge in foreign currency.
He further stated that the charges collected in foreign currency were not for local services.
“Regarding ‘Transhipment Port Dues’, other charges collected in FOREX, and NSC’s allegations of APMDC committing financial infractions, there has never been any infraction, as the said charges collected were not for local services rendered. Transhipment operations and its associated costs do not occur at a “Destination Port of Lagos” but at a “Mid Transit Port” in the course of the container journey between load and discharge ports.
“Transhipment port dues as it is titled, simply defines and makes clear the nature of transaction for those who understand the international shipping business dynamics. Besides, CBN as the official financial/economic regulator of the country has exempted operators in the maritime and aviation sector where APMDC plays, to make payments/receive payments in foreign currencies. The same circular has been reaffirmed recently as still extant by CBN, hence APMDC has not committed any infractions as alleged,” he explained.
Also speaking, the Deputy Manager, Shipping of APMDC, Rachael Monye, said the Shippers’ Council is uninterested about operators’ plights and industry inherent challenges that drive charges to customers.
She also accused the council of fees imposition without consideration or recourse to high costs of delivering the services.
She said, “We must put out there clearly that the major bone of contention to all operators, is that NSC tries to fix prices, which negates healthy competitiveness amongst players, indeed an action that is noncompliant in itself and also against standard international commercial/business norms.
“To the fact that, NSC imposes tariffs, fixes amount to charge to customers, on operators without recourse to obvious industry challenges that drive our costs and charge structure leaves very bitter taste in the mouth of industry players and our concern is that this action will discourage investors and will also run businesses to a grind, “she stated.
Monye further called on the industry regulators to understand that the business of shipping especially the NVOCC is a multiparty and multilateral business involving multiple stakeholders hence must be fair and balanced in their regulatory functions, which we have never denied them. The customers themselves are our own creations, which underpins the more reason to resolve their issues within possible realms and regulators should be objective as well as fair in their judgement.
“These businesses worth hundreds of millions to billions of naira investment are in existence to ameliorate financial burdens for importers and create ease of doing business whilst offering midrange cost effective supply chain solutions to the SMEs but at the same time, the need for returns on investments, sustainability and profitability of these platforms cannot be undermined or played down on a platter of regulations.
“The solutions we are offering are critical and beneficial to both private and public sector businesses, especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises-SMEs which are the fulcrums of growth in our country’s economy. We believe that the roles we play are pivotal to the emergence, growth and sustainability of the SMEs hence we should be commended and encouraged as we bridge the gap between airfreight and full container imports option of the average businesses entities avoiding high airfreight, full ocean freight rates, “she said.