By Samson Echenim
SHIPPERS and dry port operators have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the National Transport Commission, NTC, bill, which was passed by the Senate March 15, 2018.
In separate chats with Vanguard, the President, Shippers Association, Lagos, Rev Jonathan Nicol and Secretary of Bonded Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Omolajomo Haruna lauded the passage of the bill by the National Assembly and said the presence of a regulator in the transport sector would be a catalyst for the sector to unleash its potential and become a huge employer of labour.
According to Nicol: “The bill will immensely regulate excesses of stakeholders in the shipping subsector, especially at attaining equitable port and transport charges.
“We hope the implementation will enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria as a whole. It is therefore, important for the executive to give priority to signing the bill into law.”
For Haruna, who is General Manager, Duncan Bonded Terminal, Tin Can Port, the NTC will see to the success of the several dry ports being championed by the Nigeria’s Shippers’ Council across the country, by ensuring that seaport terminals do not become a holding bay for containers and other cargoes.
He said: “As containers continue to dwell in seaports for more time than normal, congestion of the seaports and traffic gridlocks in Apapa have become inevitable and we have all seen the menace of it. The other side of it is that only five out of about 20 bonded terminals are now functional and working at only three per cent capacity utilisation. It is a pity that most of them are owing banks and had sacked 95 per cent of their staff, instead of employing.
“If the NTC bill is signed into law, it will provoke the multi-modal system of transportation in Nigeria. A lot will be happening to see that the transport sector investors do well and create employment. Transport and shipping cost will also go down, as we begin to see a tangible regulator activate competitive markets in the shipping subsector.”
The current version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Andy Uba and was read for the second time on the floor of the Senate on October 7, 2015 after which the Senate referred the bill to the Joint Senate Committee on Land Transport, Marine Transport and Aviation Transport chaired by Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District.
Commenting on the passage of the bill by the Senate, Ashafa said: “The NTC bill when signed into law is capable of setting the transport sector on the path of positive development. With this bill, we would successfully create a multi-modal transport sector economic and safety oversight regulator for the transport sector. This is very good for business as it brings standard and structure to the transport sector while also increasing the revenue of government.”