FromA�Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
A�Except the Federal Government puts in place favourable policies and the enabling infrastructure, the advent of the regional common trade tariff will be a major hammer on Nigeriaa��s trade through the seaport, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Cowry Asset, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, has said.
A�A�A�In his keynote address on a�?Port Charges: How Plausible?a�? at the maiden conference of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN) in LagosA�Thursday, Chukwu disclosed that 60 per cent of cargoes coming to West Africa are Nigeria-bound but that only 30 per cent is discharged in Nigeria.
A�A�A�He attributed the sad development to high import charges, bad port roads and inadequate port infrastructure to facilitate trade, regretting that Nigeria has allowed Cote da��Ivoire to build the largest seaport in Africa whereas it owns a larger chunk of the cargoes. According to him, a�?the shorter the value chain, the lower the cost.a�?
A�A�A�Chukwu warned that if the common trade tariff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is fully implemented, Nigeria would lose business because once a tariff is paid in one country, no other tariff will be paid in any other West African country.
A�A�A�A�In her remarks, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, said that NPA as a regulator has a tariff price which encourages a unified charge across the nationa��s seaports, though with minor allowances at the major ports.
A�A�A�However, Usman, who was represented by the Manager Audit, Mrs. Sarah Oghomienor, noted that port charges are designed to cover operational expenses because everybody is in business to make profit, adding that the high charges are a result of all deficiencies, including road infrastructure.
A�A�A�In his welcome address, the SCAN President, Mr. Yusuf Babalola, had noted that businesses were being diverted to neighbouring countries due to high charges.