Automation, fair pricing system, timely dispute resolution vital keys for new port order—Nigerian Shippers‘ Council

Mr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers‘ Council(NSC)  says the idea of a new port order will only succeed with automation, fair price system, timely and amicable dispute settlements and easy access to  the ports.

Represented by  one of the directors , Mrs A. Adeagbo, Bello made the remark  in his keynote address at a one-day stakeholders seminar held on Wednesday by the Shippers‘ Association of Lagos State in collaboration with the NSC.
He noted that such system would eliminate corruption and reduce the problem of demurrage and human traffic at the ports to the barest minimum.

The executive secretary said that a proper legal framework  must be put in place for the council to maximise its capacity as port economic regulator in  the walk towards a new port order,

Bello said the regulator must continue to work with the stakeholders to achieve the desired transformation of the industry.

"Upon appointment as port economic regulator, the council held series of consultations with several stakeholders including shipping companies and government agencies.

"The council must continue to work with them to identify problems and areas which must be prioritized to facilitate the speedy transformation of our ports in accordance with global standards," he said.

In his speech,  Mr Ziakede Akpobolokemi, Director General  of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) said ports non compliant with the International Ships and Ports Facility Security(ISPS)Code risked being shut down.

Represented by Mr Ibrahim Jibril, a director at the agency, the Director General said it was important that the forum looked into the issue of accessibility of the port roads as the seminar centred on 'working towards a new port order.'

"This forum should take a close look at the port access roads because it has done lots of damage.

"But, I believe that with the efforts of the NPA and the railway on the inter-modal plan a lot will be achieved, " he said.

Akpobolokemi, however,  disclosed that although the major ports were ISPS-compliant, only 49 of the nation's 129 ports representing 28 per cent, were compliant.

Also speaking at the event, Comptroller Charles Edike, in charge of the Apapa Area Command, Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) said the customs had been supporting port improvement through dynamism of its operations.

He said his command had so far transferred 40,000 containers to other places like the Lilypond off-dock terminal and the kirikiri Lighter Terminal to avoid pressure at one point while other places had less to handle.

"We have transferred about 40,000 containers to other paces, for purpose of avoiding tension and allowing other areas to work too.
" This strategy is to facilitate trade and boost the shippers' business," he said.

Giving his vies on what is expected to achieve a new port order, Major Henry Ajetumobi, vice-chairman of the Nigeria Port Consultative Council, said the solution lied on cost operation reduction, enhanced security, sustained competitiveness among others.

President of the Shippers' Association Lagos State, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said achieving the new port order would involve improvement of port access roads, building of truck terminals, 48hours cargo clearance possibility among other factors to be met.