Abuja – The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) said on Thursday that shipping had the capacity to diversify the Nigerian economy.
The NSC’s Executive Secretary, Mr Hassan Bello, stated this at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Bello described the port system as a complex one with many stakeholders, all trying to channel their energy toward making appropriate contributions to Nigeria’s economy.
“We are trying to boost the revenue of the country.
“We are using maritime and shipping as targets for diversification of this economy and so many other things.
“So I think slowly we are within the sub-consciousness of Nigerians and Nigerian Shippers’ Council is discharging that role as an economic regulator.
“Nigerian ports are always in competitions with ports in other regions.
“And what our target is is to make sure that Nigerian ports are the preferred destination of cargoes so that importers and exporters would prefer using Nigerian ports than any other ports.
“That actually, is what we are doing in the economic regulation.
“So, we have our eyes on tariffs. We want reasonable costs at our ports.
“We want short dwell time for cargoes; we want the clearance procedure for cargoes to be streamlined; to be made easy and generally we want our ports to be friendly.
“So in the execution of that we have to deal with a lot of stakeholders.’’
Bello noted that the council was striving to make the ports efficient and competitive for shippers (importers and exporters) by creating synergy toward optimising the potential of the maritime industry.
He, however, said that in executing the council’s mandate and achieving its target, the council had to deal with a lot of stakeholders which included Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Other stakeholders that had substantial statutory functions at the ports are the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the private sector, the terminal operators, to whom the ports were concessioned.
According to him, the council is equally facing some challenges in trying to create a balance and synergy for the Nigerian ports to be efficient and competitive.
“The first challenge is that the ports were not regulated until eight years later after they have been concessioned.
“The ideal thing was to have a port regulator when you are concessioning the port, so that the private sector will lead.
“Now port concessioning that means making the private sector operate the port is revolutionary. The government must be commended for doing that.
“It has brought revolution in the way we do things at the port but they are still issues to be decided.
“And our challenge is first of all acceptability. We have to have dealings with the stakeholders I have mentioned; by and large we have been accepted as the economic regulator.
“Another challenge is I think we are getting entrenched, institutionalised in that function as port regulator.’’
The NSC boss said it had achieved a lot adding that at present no organisation could raise a tariff without coming to the council for negotiations.
He said the council had streamlined a lot of processes adding that it was with the Nigeria Custom Services to evolve modern ways of clearing cargoes. (NAN)