ShareTweetEmail0sharesSPECIAL REPORT The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has tremendously utilized its capacity and technical knowhow, through the discharge of its functions, to  check the... Ways Shippers’ Council Is Curbing Spread of COVID-19 at Ports, Developing Economy

SPECIAL REPORT

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has tremendously utilized its capacity and technical knowhow, through the discharge of its functions, to  check the spread of the dreaded COVID  19 and contribute to the development of  the Seaports, Maritime Sector and the Nigeria’s economy, according to SHOLA FADEYI in this Comprehensive  write –up.

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Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) .

 

 

In the fulfillment of its role as an Economic Regulator of the Nigeria’s Seaports Sector, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has unceasingly initiated robust policies as well as adopted workable measures to curb the spread of the COVID – 19 Pandemic  as well as  improve the performance of the Ports, the maritime sector as well as the economy.

Efficiency

It has particularly been able to enhance the outputs of the seaports, increase their efficiency as well as their contributions to the polity, through the effective discharge of its various services and projects bestowed on it through its enabling instruments, which gave birth to its establishment both as a Council and an economic regulator of the Seaports,  at different times.

Positive Impact

However, due to  the positive impact of the Council on the  Seaport and maritime sector  , the  general belief  is that, it  has   contributed tremendously,  especially  in recent times  to the development of the economy , due to  its  expertise , capacity   as well as  the high quality of leadership, which its  Executive Secretary,  / Chief Executive Officer(CEO) , Barrister Hassan Bello, has provided  since 2013.

IMPACT ON CURBING COVID – 19 PANDEMIC

As a responsible and responsive Economic Regulator  of the Seaports  sector.  the Council has not only expressed its support for all the instructions and advisories  that have been rolled out by the Health Authorities, in connection with the COVID -19,  it has also religiously implemented and monitor them to ensure that the stakeholders as well as the Port users adhere to the rules, a development that has curbed the spread of the Pandemic.

Palliatives

Beyond this , it has also at the early stage of the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria , when the Federal Government imposed  a lockdown on Lagos , Abuja and Ogun States , distributed N5 million worth of protective gears  for port users for the use of  relevant field and  operational staff and another N5 million to be used collectively in the fight against COVID 19 in  Lagos and Abuja , the Federal Capital Territory(FCT).

Free Bus Services

Also, in  order to ease the movement of accredited freight  forwarders  and port users who have businesses to conduct  at the ports , the Council  from April  1,2020 made provision for free bus services from  strategic places in Lagos to and from the Ports  till the end of the 5 weeks lockdown  to check the spread  of the disease.

Synergy

It has likewise called for synergies among port users and agencies to support government in containing the scourge of the dreaded disease, while making it possible to sustain port operations during the  period  of the lockdown.

Demurrage

The Council  also ensured a mutually beneficial arrangement to the service providers and the consumers through discussions with the parties on the issue of demurrage and the necessary incentives on goods at the terminals during the period of the lockdown.

In fact  directed the shipping companies to grant demurrage to the shippers accordingly, and refund those who have paid for demurrage for the period, while it has gone further to take up the complaints of those importers and customs agents who could not get refund of the money they have paid as demurrage as it has directed.

Advisory for Banks

When it realized that banks operating at the Apapa and Tin Can and other Ports in the country  did not comply with the government’s directives  to open and offer services  to  importers   agents to enable them  pay duties on their goods and make  other transactions  , during the lockdown so as to enable the ports to function, he had to step in to convince the banks,  a development that made most of them to resume services.

Inspection, Monitoring of Terminals

Beyond this, the Council , during the lockdown  had to embark on the inspection and  monitoring of the activities and operations of the terminals  to ensure that they abide by the advisories of the health authorities  as it concerns observation of the  rules of  social distancing in the workplace , making  provisions  for sanitizers, soap and water   for their personnel  and customers to wash their hands  as well as inculcating  the tenets of hygiene on their workers.

Apart from making official visits to most of the terminals, it had to post some of its personnel to the ports to ensure enforcement  of the government’s instructions   in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

Reduction in Haulage Charges

The Council was also able to secure a 30 per cent reduction in the fares charged by the truckers with a view to making it easy for goods to be transported within  and outside Lagos and as a form of palliatives for the shippers , particularly when the roads were free for vehicular movements during the period.

Streamlining / Fumigation of Operations

For the fact that charity begins at home, it  also had to  streamline  its  operations during the lockdown, with only the directors reporting to work while it directed that others should be reporting from home , even as  it had during the post lockdown period , reduced the number of his work days and the hours of work to three days in a week  as well as embarked on extensive fumigation of its headquarters and its other offices in Nigeria  as part of measures to check the spread of the pandemic.

Setting up of Maritime Task Team

The Council likewise set up the Maritime  Task Team  on the COVID -19 with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) , the Nigerian Port Consultative Council(NPCC), Nigerian Navy, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN), the  Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN)  among others to handle the daily challenges at the Port.

Ensuring Multi-modal Transportation/ Ports Efficiency

Despite the challenges of the COVID -19, and the lockdown, it has also continued to take steps to ensure Port’s efficiency and the implementation of the multi modal transport system , a development that made it to intervene  in a misunderstanding between the Nigerian Railway Corporation(NRC)  and the APMT  and led to the functioning of the rail system from the Apapa Port.

Consensus

Even before the advent of the COVID- 19, consensus is that the Council has done well in terms of sensitization of stakeholders, response to issues and positive impact in the ports, as   so many shippers and freight forwarders, who took their complaints to it for intervention succeeded in getting their problems resolved, while it has through the discharge of its regulatory service, saved a lot of money for the economy.

Little wonder that the Council has been slated   for the position of the National Transport Commission (NTC) ,  through which it is believed, it would affect the transport sector , more positively. While it  was to have since last year, gotten the Assent of  President Muhammadu  Buhari  for that purpose,  but the need to fine-tune certain areas of the  Bill  caused  delay and it is expected that , the President  will give his final Assent , sequel to the resolution of the Grey areas of the Bill, expectedly after the defeat of COVID 19.

Commendation

It was also based on the huge contributions of the Council in recent times  that has made the  revered maritime lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) , Chief Olisa Agbakoba  to  have  said  ,  that the  role of the Council, ought to have been  upgraded to that of the economic regulator  of the maritime sector before now,  instead of just that of the Seaports , adding that the position of an NTC was however,  a well deserved one for it due to its huge achievements.

Lending credence to the positive activities of the Council, the Chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC) , Otunba Kunle Folarin has  had cause, to say that  that the Shippers’ Council  has  through its various activities   added tremendous value to the  operations of the seaport sector including its stakeholders  adding that it was not a surprise that it has made tremendous impact at checking the spread of COVID 19 at the seaports.

SERVICES/ PROJECTS

However , the contributions of the Council to the development of the economy  have been possible  through  the various Services it has been rendering  and the Projects it has been executing which have   of course been enlarged particularly in the last seven years of its  current management,   and which have been pursued doggedly , hence the results that have been produced.

While the projects include, acting as facilitators for the Construction of  Dry Ports and Truck Parks across the country, it has also been rendering the services of  Industry Stakeholders  Support, Representation, Advisory, Complaints Handling , Advocacy, Conduction of Research, Provision of Information, Enlightenment and  Performing Regulatory  roles.

Results

Despite the results  which the Council’s management has recorded  in recent time   at achieving international standard  in port service delivery as well  as an affordable cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports ,   it has nevertheless  not been contented with the achievements as  it has strived this year to enhance its performance in the areas of service delivery.

The Council’s ES/ CEO confirmed this development, when he told Marine and economy in an interview very recently, before the COVID 19  issue , that the Council has put machinery in place to achieve a better efficiency, and a marked reduction in the cost of doing business at the nation’s seaports   this year through some fresh inputs it will make in the discharge of its responsibilities.

REGULATORY ROLES

Fresh Measures

Thus according to Bello , the Council  has begun to  take fresh  measures to ensure that  the Single Window Project takes up fully this year , that the operators in the sector enhance their level of automation , while more Dry Ports are expected   to commence operations, even as it is accelerating  the  pace  of the implementation  of the Truck Parks  so that  they can take off in no time.It is expected , however that the deserved  attention given to COVID 19 will not slow down the plans.

The Council as part of the implementation of  its functions ,  has carried out series of negotiations aimed at facilitating clearing of goods at the ports, with the  shipping companies, freight forwarders , Shippers Groups , the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria(MAN)  NACCIMA , including the Organized Private Sector   while they are expected  to validate the  matters for discussions soon.

Checking Arbitrary Charges

In its continuation of the process of stabilizing charges, it has also before the outbreak of the COVID 19,  reduced the various rates   of the shipping companies to five   from 16 , while still  reviewing downwards the sub headings of their  tariff as the need arises.

The Council’s various interventions in the areas of checking imposition of illegal and arbitrary charges on consumers of shipping services by the Service providers , have however deterred the latter,  significantly   from indulging in such habits. This is probably why the Council has insisted that most of the complaints on imposition of illegal and arbitrary charges are not true , from its investigation

The NSC began the process of checking arbitrary charges in the seaport sector , in exercise of its power as an Economic Regulator  on October29, 2014, when it    reversed  the  progressive storage charges of the terminal operators  and   also directed shipping companies to reduce their shipping line agency charges from N26, 500 to N23, 850 per TEU (20-foot containers) and from N48, 000 to N40, 000 per FEU (40-foot containers).

Enforcement Power

Apparently lending credence ,to the efforts of the Council in the area of checking arbitrary charges,  Honourable Tony Nwabunike , the current  President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), who is also the pioneer Chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN)  told Marine and economy in an interview recently, pre- COVID 19, that the Council has  impacted positively in this direction,  and   in many other ways, but urged that government give it power of enforcement to make  it do more.

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Beyond this, there  have been cases in recent times , where the Council has bared his fangs to ensure that arbitrary charges do not stay.For instance , COSCO, one  of the shipping  agents  charged  shippers arbitrarily, recently  , but the Council  wrote to the Agency  on the matter  and it  promptly closed the shipping agent’s  office and ensured it complied before reopening the office.

Auditing of Terminal Operators

The Council has likewise begun the process of auditing the  Terminal operators  ,with a view to ensuring that their operations meet regional and international standards and  to know their level of equipment, machinery, cranes per movement , turn -around time of terminal, berth  rate occupancy  and many other issues. So , it has been visiting them, for purpose of inspection and pointing out   inadequacies observed in their operations , while they have been making corrections in this direction even before the pandemic started.

Solution to Gridlock

As part of the discharge of its Services and in recognition of its expertise , the Council has played very positive role as  an integral member of the Presidential Task Team  on the Restoration of Law and Order (PTT- RLO) put in place by the Federal Government,  to decongest the  Lagos Seaports Access Roads , as it  ensured that private truck parks  were sourced as parking lots  for trucks  who had earlier taken over the roads .

Its  expert advice also made it possible  for the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) to eventually converted the erstwhile Lillypond  Terminal in Ijora , Lagos to a Truck Transit Park  which has served as a temporary  parking lot  for  trucks, wishing  to gain entry into the Apapa Port , before they receive the call up from the terminal operators , while the measure has assisted to  ease the gridlock , even as the Council also contributed in some other ways to alleviating the challenge.

In recognition of its commendable role in the gridlock issue  and other steps it has taken in the seaport sector   ,  the Vice President of ANLCA , Dr Kayode Farinto   lauded  the Council , for  offering useful suggestions towards a permanent solution to the persistent gridlock on the access road to the Lagos seaports as well as providing technical advice for government , the Ministry of Transportation and representing it locally and globally  on maritime functions .

Automation

Because of the importance of automation in achieving efficiency, the Council is still making fresh efforts in this direction to ensure that stakeholders are up to date , despite that it has  contributed  at ensuring that agencies and stakeholders in the sector embrace automation.

This is why it has persistently  enlightened the  Nigerian  Ports Authority, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) , the National Agency for Food , Drugs , Administration and Control (NAFDAC) ,the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS) and  providers and consumers of shipping services  .

on the importance of automating their operations for purpose of efficiency  and trade facilitation .

Single Window Project

The commencement of the Single Window Project is one of the issues to  which the Council ‘s CEO has been very committed , as part of measures ,to facilitate clearing of goods as well as achieve transparency among the stakeholders  involved in trade activities at the seaport  ,through making all of them to belong to a single platform

Arrangements are being made, while the Council has been in discussion with the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS) Colonel Hameed  Ali(rtd), on   how relevant stakeholders would key into the Customs platform , which is to be used   for the take off of the scheme.

Meeting of Strategic Partners

In a bid  to finding solutions to issues hindering  Ports efficiency, the Council  before the intrusion of the COVID 19 into Nigeria’s economy,  called  a meeting of its strategic partners ,namely,  the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Export Promotion Council(NEPC), Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria(SON)  among others  where such obstacles were examined .

Registration

Also as part of providing regulatory services,  it has concluded arrangements   to carry out the registration of regulatory service providers, including all importers and exporters  for the purpose of  knowing  their customers base, improve their service delivery and ensure that their operations are modernized and standardized.

Cargo Dwell Time

Also worried about the challenge of cargoes staying long  at the Ports , it is set, after the COVID 19 issue must have become a thing of the past, to   reduce to seven days ,  , the existing  about 20 days  cargo dwell time, particularly at the Lagos Ports  , as part of measures to cut down on  the cost of clearing goods, make the  Ports to be more competitive and invariably  positively affect the high cost of services and prices of goods in the markets.

24 Hours Port Operations

Tied to this is the efforts it is making to likewise make the 24 hours Port Operations and cargo clearing policy of government to become more realistic .While vessel anchorage occurs round the clock, the Council is resolved to look at other aspects of port operations where the policy is not yet working with a view to finding solutions to them.

This is why it has made several inputs into the issue of ensuring that the Lagos Ports and others and new ports to be built are linked with rail, while the massive rehabilitation of the access road ,leading to the Lagos Ports , particularly , the Apapa-Mile 2- Oshodi – Berger  Express way  are speedily concluded.

The Council is optimistic that with the proposed  take off of the single window project, completion of the repairs of the ongoing  Lagos Ports Access Roads , and  by April 2021, when the Apapa and Tin Can Ports must have been linked by rail , if COVID 19 problem  quickly becomes a thing of the past  and if the   the stakeholders , service providers and consumers of their services  embrace automation , among other factors , the 24 hours clearing will become fully functional at the ports.

Legislation on Carriage of Goods by Land

As part of measures to reduce the rate of  accidents on the highways and introduce sanity into the  trucking operations in the country,  the  Council  has also  begun a legislation drive , that will enable it regulate and reform the process of  carriage of goods by land .

Consequently, it has under the supervision of the Transportation Ministry, drafted an Executive  Bill that will be sent to the National Assembly anytime from now,  for Passage  into law , and subsequent Assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Council is resolved  to have such legislation, because of its conviction  that  carriage of goods  by land ,  currently  lacks  such laws, while there is no legal protection of any kind or even  a define insurance backing for the operators and practitioners of the trade, even as the anomaly has made it difficult for foreigners  to invest in the sector.

The proposed new Bill is one of the lots that have been worked upon by the Council over time as part of its services, while  it is also making arrangements to ensure the  domestication of  the FAL Conventions ,  to facilitate trade at the nation’s seaports.

Intermodal Transport

It is also a plus for the council that it has been able to coordinate inter modal transportation , standardized service delivery in the Port sector and  harmonized  clearing processes and procedures.

Involvement in Cargo Clearing Process

Also, by virtue of the fact that the Council is now involved in the cargo examination and clearing process,  its activities have led to efficiency of the ports system, and faster clearing of cargo as its monitoring role has  made it possible for the different stakeholders, namely, Nigerian Customs Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) and others  to be present and prompt at the inspection points at the ports.

Scanners/100 per cent examination

The need to achieve the desired efficiency in Port operations and ensure trade facilitation  has also made the Council to insist that scanners needed to be procured by the Federal Government for the examination of goods  while  100 per cent examination of cargoes must be stopped because it is  no longer the norm anywhere in the world, apart from the fact that it can only be used  for  some random sampling of containers, the risk assessment and others .

 Uniform Haulage Rates / Loan facilities

There are strong indications, that the Council will also soon publish an approved official list of rates for truckers in Nigeria, sequel to their approval by the Transport Ministry as part of measures to sanitise , unify and  standardize their charges .

It  has already fully discussed and negotiated the rates, with the trucker unions and associations, together with the banks and other relevant stakeholders, while an agreement has been reached on them.It is also working at securing loan facilities for truckers to enable them purchase new trucks .

40% Tariff Reduction

Additionally, as part of its efforts at ensuring stability in charges in the seaports, it has almost concluded work on a Standard Tariff System , which will witness the reduction of tariff in the sector to between  30 and 40 Per cent .

STAKEHOLDERS SUPPORT/ ADVISORY

Through the Shippers’ Council’s   Stakeholders Support Service  , it has been  ameliorating  the financial losses of shippers and others , through its Cargo Defense  Fund and the savings it has made for the shippers and the economy through its  responses to their  various complaints  and its activities in the areas of Charter party fees, freight rates and verification of the value of container demurrage.

The Council has continued to   advise  stakeholders on contemporary issues in the transport industry, as well as the Federal Government on policy formulation and implementation as it affects the transport sector, thus ensuring that the industry increases its contributions to the economy

Mediation / Complaints Handling

Statistics collated at the Council on issues concerning its  mediation and complaints handling service showed that  , in  the first nine months of last year, it  received and entertained about 108 complaints  and  saved  millions for the relevant stakeholders in naira and hard currency   while it has continued to do so,  thus  checking unnecessary losses which  would have led to increase in the cost of  goods and services in the economy.

The Council handles complaint from continually pursued goals that effectively minimize freight, tariff and other related shipping charges as well as play the umpire/advisory role in commercial shipping.

Some of these issues include:Short landing and non-delivery of Cargoes;Time bar and prolonged court cases;Theft/ pilferages and damage to cargoes;Excessive and illegal/unsubstantiated charges;Delays in the clearance of goods at the ports; and Lack of understanding of the processes of foreign arbitration.

The Council has been playing mediatory role in many of these cases to ensure recovery, remedy or identification as the case may be.

Saving Funds for Shippers, Economy

Also as part of the Council’s mandate to assist the Federal Government to check capital flight, it has been saving shippers and the nation’s economy huge sums from verifications of the value of container demurrage, confirmation of charter party fees and freight rates that would have been forced on shippers and the economy by  shipping agents.

For instance, it was through the discharge of such functions that it was able to save shippers and the economy a sum of N1.740 billion   in the first half of 2019.

Port Service Support Portal

In its bid to provide a better complaints handling service, the Council in collaboration with other stakeholders has established a complaints handling portal -the (PSSP). The PSSP is a web-enabled complaints management solution conceived by the Council as a regulatory tool to address the lack of transparency in business to business transactions in Nigeria ports.

The portal allows port stakeholders to submit and track the status of complaints and enquiries in an online real-time manner. It also provides for analysis of complaints to generate complaints statistics

Abolishing Container Deposit

The Council has been working relentlessly to abolish the container deposits paid to shipping companies while in the long run it wants the containers to be owned by the shippers themselves. It has also been striving to   guarantee that containers will be returned intact to the shipping companies, which is why it has been working to   involve insurance companies in the arrangement

This is meant to put an end to the hardship the shippers have been experiencing in the area of container deposit, particularly where some of them find it difficult to at times to  reclaim their deposits from some of the shipping companies which  give excuses of the containers being damaged  among other issues.

INFORMATION

It has also been   providing a source of veritable information and enlightenment for stakeholders.

These it has been doing through its   Maritime Resource Library, that is stocked   with vital materials,  its maintenance of a  Data Base, various Seminars , Summits and Workshops it has been organising  and  through   various other activities  of its Public Relations Unit.

The Council also provides information for shippers and other stakeholders as well as facilitate international trade  through its services, whereby it gives information on import guidelines, procedures and documentation; freight and haulage rates; Port Tariff,; Prohibition List; Industry Operators’ Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) , Daily Shipping Position and Regulated Service Providers Registration Guidelines.

It makes available   information to stakeholders on indicative freight rates on major trade routes and local shipping charges; International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS), ethics and integrity in conducting international trade and existing contracts of afreightment; through publication of  pamphlets, periodicals and fliers containing trade and related information (e.g. Procedure for container weighing, Import/Export Guidelines, etc) .

ENLIGHTENMENT

The Council has also over the years and consistently  under the current management  carries out stakeholders enlightenment programmes nationwide through conferences, seminars and workshops, a chain of instrument it has effectively used to sharpen the skills of stakeholders  and keep them much more informed.

Some of these activities  which it has used to keep professionals abreast of developments in  their trade include  seminars for Transport Journalists, Maritime Seminar for Judges; Annual Shipping Conference;Workshop on Transport Cost and Connectivity;Airfreight Sensitisation Seminars;Stakeholders Townhall Meetings;Market Sensitisation and Road Shows.

For instance, it  organised  a Seminar late last year  to sensitize stakeholders in the economy  which it invited to its headquarters in  Apapa, Lagos on the positive implications and  rationale behind the closure of Nigeria’s Borders with its neighbouring countries  by the Federal Government.

In January 14, this year, it also  organised an Extraordinary Stakeholders Meeting on the  Restoration of Law and Order on Apapa Port Access Roads and its environs  at the Rockview Hotel  in Lagos, to where it likewise  invited  many stakeholders to seek solutions to the issue of Gridlock on the Lagos Ports Access Roads .

According to the Founder of the Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) , Chief Boniface Aniebonam , the current management of the NSC  has  been able to facilitate trade through its various activities , created a high level of awareness as it concerns the rights of stakeholders while it has done so much in the area of capacity building and education .

REPRESENTATION

Also due to its  possession of the requisite  capacity , the Council has pledged  to continue to  represent  stakeholders’ interest in local and international shipping and trade related fora and organizations such as International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Trade Organisation (WTO),Maritime Organizations of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); Global Shippers Forum (GSF) among others .

EFFORTS THROUGH ADVOCACY SERVICES

It has also continued to  embrace new global best practices or align with emerging beneficial trends in the international trade and transport industry , identified and found solutions to challenges ,through its advocacy services, promotion of the formulation and implementation of new policies and adoption and implementation of new legal regimes.

Some of the Council’s efforts in this regard include The UNCITRAL Rotterdam Rules.IMO Container Weighing Regulation;Improving Transport Cost and Connectivity across the Sub-region;The International Chamber of Commerce International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) and World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO, TFA).

RESEARCHES

The Council also conducts research into various aspects of the Transportation and Logistics issues in International Trade for the benefit of all stakeholders in the Industry. In this realm, some of the studies/researches the Council have undertaken include, those of the number of articulated vehicles patronizing the Lagos Ports Access Road acting as  enabler or facilitator of the construction of Inland Dry Ports or Inland Container Depots(ICDs) or Container Freight Stations(CFSs) and   Truck Transit Parks  across the country, Port Access Flow/Gap Analysis to proffer solution for the eradication of gridlock on Lagos Port Access Roads and the State of Port Infrastructure among others.

Thus, the impact which the Shippers Council has made on the seaports ,  in its various activities has made many in the maritime such as Prince OlayIwola Shittu, the immediate past National President of ANLCA, and Prince Adeniyi Ajayi , the Vice President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) to agree , that the Council  has on behalf of the Federal Government assisted to develop  the economy.

PROJECTS

Dry Ports

Due to the high level of contributions which the current management of the Shippers’ Council has made to the development of the Dry Ports and Truck Transit Parks in Nigeria , the Federal Government through the Transportation Minister , Senator Gbemi Saraki had to confer on the  Council recently, the honour of integrating the Dry Ports into the nation’s Transport Master Plan.

This is in recognition of the importance of the Dry Ports , otherwise referred to as the Inland Container Deport(ICD) as a key factor of development in the economy, judging by the efforts the Council , which is acting as its  Facilitator on behalf of the Federal Government, has put into its design and establishment  in conjunction  with the Private sector, on  Public Private Participation(PPP) basis.

Rationale/Progress

The Council has been assisting in the development of the Dry Ports in strategic places in the country because of the need  to check congestion at the Lagos Seaports,make them more user friendly, tame  gridlock on the Ports Access Roads , develop the nation’s transport  infrastructure as well as bringing Ports services close to the hinterlands.

While it has ensured that the Kaduna Dry Port took off almost fully since last year , as train  now moves every week from Lagos to Kaduna with containers and carry  empties and laden container of  exports from Kaduna back to Lagos. The regulatory agencies , namely, Customs  NAFDAC, NLDLEA, SON and others have already moved into the ICD , even as it is striving to get pre- inspection or destination status  for the Dry Port.

The Council is also working to make the Zawachiki ,Kano   Dry Port commence full operation this year even as the Jos ICD has just gotten a new investor.

The Council’s CEO, before the problem of COVID 19 started  has had  serious of  talks with the Deputy Gov of Abia State with a view to having,  a new focus  to the ICD  in Isiala- gwua, Aba  in Abia State  while the ICDs for other locations in the country namely the ones in Ibadan, , Zamfarawa, Funtua and Jauri, Maiduguri,Lokoja in Kogi State; Obollo-Affor in Enugu State; Ogere in Ogun State; Jebba in Kwara State and Port Novo Creek in Lagos State and  Ore in Ondo State  are in various stages of development.

This is even as the Council has ensured that an agreement for the construction of a fresh dry Port in Ibadan that will cost $500 million is signed this year, while the  ICD is to be ready  in 18 months with capacity to employ thousands of Nigerians just like others.This is in addition to the one that is being promoted in Erunmu in the same Ibadan by Catamaran Nigeria Limited even as others in Isialagwua, Aba Zawachiki, Kano.

 TTP

It is the need to check indiscriminate   parking of articulated vehicles on  roads   and bridges across the country ,  drastically reduce  the rate of accidents on the highways, show humanness to the drivers , as well as improve the Nigeria’s economy infrastructure,that  the shippers Council has also been   with the establishment of TTPs in various parts of the country also on PPP basis.

The Council has thus   appointed transaction advisers for them  while it has advertised  the one  in  Obollo-Afor, Enugu State  with a strong assurance that international investors would invest in it  and that a preferred bidder would emerge for it this year . Such is  also expected for the one in Lokoja In Kogi State.This is even as the Council’s CEO along with officials of the ICRC has  just recently inspected the land for the one to be established in Abuja.

The  fact that the  TTPs being  proposed by the  Shippers’ Council (NSC) across the country will help the federal government save a whopping $15billion annually to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country,  according to an international  agency, has lent credence to the extent of benefits that will accrue to the economy from the Council’s  initiative.

Other TTPs are meant for  Jebba, Kwara State,Ore, Ondo State,Ogere, Ogun State,Porto Novo Creek, Lagos State,Onitsha, Anambra State, and Mararaban in  Nassarawa State.

Conclusion

However, despite that the Council has been able to positively impact the seaports , the maritime sector their stakeholders  and  the economy in many ways ,through its services , it has nevertheless not  rested on its oars , as it has persistently adopted fresh measures  to make the ports to be more modern in their operations ,increase their  efficiency level  and  competitiveness .

 

 

 

 

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