Nigerian importers have condemned “huge surcharges” by international shipping firms for incoming cargo, local media reported Wednesday.

One such firm has imposed a payment of roughly $1,025 on shipping containers of 20 feet and 40 feet from the US, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, according to the Lagos-based news website Ripples.

The surcharge has increased the already-steep cost of doing business in Nigerian ports, adding to other challenges such as deficient infrastructure and difficult shipping processes, importers say.

“We are protesting against it vehemently. There was no notice to us and the shippers that the charge was imminent,” Ripples Nigeria quoted Hassan Bello, executive secretary and CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council, as saying.

“Why should Nigeria be the recovery ground for shipping companies?” Bello asked.

He said the “discriminatory” surcharges were above $1,000 and were imposed just as the country was recovering from the economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus.

“It is discriminatory because it is not happening in Togo, Benin or Ghana, why should it be in Nigeria? We have written a strong letter to the shipping association of Nigeria and we also wrote to their principals overseas, because this is not a local charge.”

He added: “We should all come together and fight against [these] unnecessary charges. The charges are unilateral and arbitral and we are going to protest against it because it is economic sabotage.”

The charges work against Nigeria’s economic recovery, as well as the “resolve to recover from the effect of COVID-19,” he said.

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