The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Dr. Mu’Azu Sambo, has called on service providers to respect the mandate given to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as Port Economic Regulator.
Dr. Sambo who made the call at a seminar with the theme “Promoting Competition in the maritime industry: The mandate of Nigerian Shippers’ Council “in Lagos was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani.
He said that as far as the supervising ministry is concerned, Nigerian Shippers’ Council is the only Port Economic Regulator pending the establishment and operationalization of the National Transport Commission (NTC) as an independent regulatory authority in the transport industry.
The Minister maintained that Nigerian Shippers’ Council has the power to institute effective regulation at the nation’s ports while the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is the technical operator in the maritime industry.
He, however called on all the stakeholders in the maritime sector to give the Council the needed support and cooperation in exercising the regulatory power. He also expressed the Ministry’s readiness to include NSC in the subsequent concession programme.
The Minister expressed delight that there is a harmonious working relationship among agencies in the maritime industry.
In his key note address, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime said that the NSC’s mandate as Port Economic Regulator was to institute effective regulation at the ports for the control of tariffs, rates and charges and other economic activities.
Jime described ports as critical infrastructure that are needed to be competitive to allow the users of port services to enjoy the benefits of lower prices in a competitive ports’ environment. He stressed that Council as Port Economic Regulator could not achieve its aspiration without the support of different players in the maritime sector.
In his presentation, Professor of Development Economics and Data Analytics, Lagos Business School, Professor Bongo Adi, described the port system as a natural monopolistic system which needed regulation to protect public interest.
Adi said that the competitiveness in port operations can only be achieved when regulation is complied with by stakeholders in the industry. He called on the NSC to intensify its sensitization and ensure adequate engagement of stakeholders to tackle the challenges faced at the ports.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Muhammed Bello-Koko charged the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to make more effort in extending the competitiveness of port operations.
The NPA boss was represented by the Board Secretary/ Legal Adviser, Gamboro Umar.
The Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Pius Otteh said that the apex ministry knows that the Council is faced with challenges.
“We believe the legal encumbrances have been addressed and consultations are ongoing with some major shipping companies”, he said.
The Chairperson, Nigerian Shipowners’ Forum, Margarete Orakwusi called on the Federal Government to prioritize exports to make Nigerian currencies compete favourably with international currencies.
She urged that export be given top priority when accessing the ports.