The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) is currently moving strongly to ensure that government agencies under the Ministry of Transportation are put under economic regulation so that they do not introduce any charges without first seeking negotiation with the Council.
The Council is worried that this has been the trend with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and has taken up the matter with the Ministry of Transportation and the concerned agencies for them to come under regulation.
Speaking on the issue, the executive secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello said that having succeeded in getting the shipping companies to reduce charges, it will now focus attention on the government agencies to come to the Council for negotiation of their new charges before they are introduced.
Bello explained that it was important for the NPA and other agencies to come to the negotiation table before introducing new charges because according to him a charge from NPA could wipe out the gains of the agreement it is planning to sign soon with the shipping companies to reduce charges by 35 percent.
The Council estimates that a 35 percent reduction in charges by shipping companies will lead to savings of about N480 billion annually with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Bello said it was better to discuss charges before they are introduced because of the consequences on the shippers and the economy. He said, “We want NPA to come and negotiate with the Council if it wants to introduce new charges because a charge from NPA could wipe out all gains we have made.”
Bello referred to the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority which had introduced a charge and had to come for negotiation with the Council when it was reminded to do so. “So, if we can have such cooperation from an organization outside the Ministry of Transportation, why can’t we have with people inside”, he said.
The executive secretary pointed out the issue of environmental fees being charged by both NPA and NIMASA, adding that this was a clear duplication of charges that will impact negatively on shippers. “NIMASA is charging environmental fees, so also NPA is doing the same, and we can’t have that. That is duplication. This will raise the charges more on shippers. We want charges to be tied to services”, he said. Bello said his Council is getting a lot of support from the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that what is wrong could be corrected. He also added, “We are also getting now to understand ourselves, each other or one another with NIMASA. For example, we are doing a lot of things with NIMASA. We think that coming together with NIMASA is very important as far as these charges are concerned”. Bello had said that the implementation will begin once the MoU with shipping companies as agreed by the Ministry of Transportation comes into effect.
Ref Leadership newspaper