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NSC, NPA query tariff hike by PTOL terminal

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NSC Executive Secretary, Hassan Bello

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have expressed displeasure over the recent increase in tariff by Port and Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL).

The agencies alleged that the arbitrary increase of charges by PTOL without consultation with its landlord (NPA), and the Port Economic Regulator (NSC) ran foul of its lease agreement and government regulations.

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The Acting Executive Secretary of the NSC, Ms. Ifeoma Ezedinma, who conveyed the meeting, said such acts will attract sanctions as the Shippers’ Council, through public notices, visits and correspondences advise regulated service providers to obey the law.

Citing Clause 5:5 of the lease agreement between NPA and PTOL, NPA’s General Manager (Monitoring and Regulatory Service), Ugo Madubuike, said that the increase in charges contradicts the Contractual Agreement.

Clause 5:5 states: “The lessee shall not make any increase in the operation rate unless agreed to in writing by the parties and any required persons or governmental authority has been obtained.”

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NSC and NPA advised PTOL to present their proposed increases for negotiation through official channels as soon as possible.

PTOL’s General Manager, Macpherson Nwaukoni, apologised for the oversight while explaining that the action was taken due to losses the company has incurred in the course operations.

These losses, according to him, occurred as a result of the import ban on certain items resulting in the company’s inability to meet its obligation to the Lessor, particularly the rental debt they owe to NPA.

He also said the comparison of their rates with other terminals revealed that their charges are much lower. All these, he said, made operations difficult leading them to increase their tariffs by 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

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He appealed for leniency, explaining that PTOL had not increased charges in 16 years and was currently running at a loss.

The Director, Legal Services Department of NSC Tahir Idris advised PTOL to obtain documents on NSC’s Legal Framework to acquaint itself with the regulatory procedures of tariff increase and to also be guided to ensure they follow the right protocol.

The Director, Consumer Affairs, Cajetan Agu, insisted that they revert to their old rates until due process is followed.

He stressed that their action contravened the contracts they signed upon the lease, and as such, they violated the Lessor contract and NSC Act.

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