Amaechi, shippers indict multinationals for high freight in Africa
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and other stakeholders in the export value chain, yesterday, described as unreasonable the high cost of transporting goods in Africa, accusing multinational shipping companies of being behind the unsavoury development.
While the bill is about 10 per cent in Europe, Asia and America, it, however, hovers around 40 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking at an event hosted in Abuja by the Union of African Shippers Councils, Amaechi observed that the high freight, poor infrastructure and arbitrary surcharges were fueling the disturbing situation.
Represented by Director, Maritime Transport, in the ministry, Auwal Suleiman, the minister noted that the lack of consultation, timing and cost were worrisome, stressing: “These surcharges are mostly unilateral, and at times, new nomenclature introduced by the multinational shipping companies/lines without consultation with the sub-regional authorities or the shippers.”
He added: “The process of the introduction of these surcharges lacks transparency and may not be based on verifiable and available statistics. These surcharges amount to huge sums of capital flight from the sub-regional economies and thereby depleting the limited foreign reserves.”
The Rivers State ex-governor regretted that while a summit on unfair surcharges and high local shipping charges imposed on sub-regional ports by multinational shipping companies was held in 2019, the Committee of Experts on Cost was yet to be inaugurated.
Against the backdrop of the implementation of the African Free Trade Agreement, Amaechi submitted: “Transport provides mobility that ensures movement of goods from production centres to areas where they are mostly needed. High transport cost translates to high landing cost for goods.”
He urged the council to analyse the cost component of maritime transport and ensure that all variables relating to delays and corrupt practices were eliminated from the system.
“We must identify the anti-competitive behaviours of multinational shipping operators in the region which are directly linked to the high cost of transport in West and Central Africa,” the minister noted.
The union’s Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Jime, cautioned the region against remaining at the mercy of foreign cargoes.
According to him, there is a need to scrutinise details regarding the cost of services rendered across ports in the zone for scientific comparisons with other ports of the world to arrive at acceptable rates for mutually beneficial transactions.