Offshore operators rue Shippers Council absence, increase rates by $1,500
Offshore operators in Nigeria’s shipping sector have rued the absence of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in the regulation of charges in the sub-sector. This is even as the operators have taken their destiny in their hands by increasing offshore shipping charges by $1,500.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune in an exclusive interview, President of the Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN), Emmanuel Maiguwa, said that the operators, who were worried by the irregularities in pricing regime, had to agree that prevailing rates be increased by $1,500.
Maiguwa said, “Due to irregularities in the pricing regime in Nigeria’s offshore operations, what we have done in the interim is to agree on a resolution that the rate that has been prevalent in the last two to three months be increased by $1,500.
“We were facing a situation where most of the vessels moving about were not 100 percent safe due to irregularities in the pricing regime of the offshore shipping business. Vessel owners were cutting corners to secure jobs and it was threatening safety standards of their vessels.
“The new resolution on an increment by $1,500 came into force on February 14, 2023. The idea is just to save the situation before we run into danger while we sit down together and come up with a market model that does not add cost unnecessarily on our shipping practice and at the same time addresses the safety issues.
“We anticipated that there might be some push from the same actors (foreign partners) who have always worked on winning business by driving down cost, so MASPAN has been recognising those who are massively in support of the new resolution on pricing.
“But I can tell you that there is about 95 percent acceptance to this new resolution by the foreign partners that do business in Nigeria’s offshore domain. They have agreed that the rates are terrible and poor.
“However, we are not ruling out a few elements who will still want to drive down cost in order to win business at the expense of safety.”
On the agency directly responsible for fixing rates, the MASPAN president explained that, “The responsibility to directly look into charges and fix rates has been recently given to the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) by the Federal Government.
“But the issue here is that the NSC needs to be trained in offshore operations because there are a lot of things that the economic regulator has not been involved in.
“I don’t see how the NSC can come and start regulating a sector that it has not been involved in. It will take time before the NSC will come up to speed to regulate the offshore market entirely.
“While we wait for the NSC to come onboard and use their expertise, I think a lot of things can be done using other channels.”