By Godwin Oritse
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has warned that there won’t be a meaningful port concession review without involvement of the Council.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, at the sidelines of the Sub Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committee Meeting of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) hosted by the NSC in Abuja recently.
Recall that the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, at the International Association of Ports and Harbour (IAPH) last week said the review of the concession agreement would be ready in three months.
Usman said, “It will be ready in the next three months. We are talking with the terminal operators. We have an inter-agency which has all the agencies of government that are part of the concessioning process, including office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Enterprise(BPE), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Federal Ministry of Transportation, NPA, and we also have technical support from the World Bank.”
But, apparently not satisfied with the exclusion of NSC, Bello said the concessioning is bound to fail without the involvement of the Council.
He stated: “There is a review of port concessioning going on but for now, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not participating and Nigerian Shippers Council is a representative of so many things.
“You cannot have a meaningful port concession agreement without the Nigerian Shippers Council, but I am aware that the Ministry of Transportation is looking at this because one has to take the interest of all users because this is what happened in the first instance when the negotiations of the port concessioning was inclusive we were not involved and we should operate an open society.
“So, enemies of open society won’t succeed on this port concessioning. Shippers Council will insist that it should be part of the review of the port concessioning agreements because the Nigerian Shippers Council is the port economic regulator and is the representative of the users and also the providers of shipping services. We need to have everyone come together because like it is said you can’t shave someone hair in his absence.”
The Council also said it is ready to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with shipping companies to reduce cost of shipping in Nigeria.
He stated that once the single window and International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) come into effect, cost would also reduce.
“Sometimes, cost is a result of inefficiencies and also chaos or lack of processes or procedures but once we have the Single Window and the Cargo Tracking Note, the issue of cost will be eliminated and by nature of that, we see cost of doing shipping in Nigeria coming down drastically.
“Already, NSC is about signing a very important MoU with the shipping companies and this will reduce drastically the cost of doing business in Nigeria by about 35 percent. If we perfect our system, we will find efficiency and competition because competition drives down cost.”
“We want the cost of transportation to be minimal part of cost of production and right now the transport cost is very high but it is our hope that after the Single Window, ICTN and negotiations with shipping companies the shipping cost will come down drastically,” he assured.