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Shippers’ Council faults exclusion from review of ports concession agreement

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The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has expressed fears that the ongoing review of the ports concession agreement may not be successful unless it is involved in the process.
   
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, who disposed this on the sideline of the Sub-regional workshop on Ports Concessions in West and Central Africa and its impact on economies of member states, in Abuja, said the council is not presently involved in the review process depicting partial consideration of ports major stakeholders.
 
He said: “Shippers’ Council will insist to be part of the concession agreement because NSC is a port economic regulator, and also a representative of users and providers of shipping services.
 
“For now, NSC is not participating in the review and the Council is a representative of so many things.

You cannot have a meaningful port concession agreement without the input of Shippers Council.

I am aware that the Federal Ministry of Transportation is looking at this because you have to take care of the interest of all port users. 
 
“This happened in the first instance when the negotiations of port concession was exclusive.

We should operate an open society and those enemies of open society will not succeed in this concession agreement,” he said.
 
On the prevailing high shipping cost, Bello said sometimes, high cost are as a result of inefficiency, chaos or lack of perfect procedures.
 
He said this has affected the efficiency of Nigerian ports because there is no National Single Window, which is a trade facilitation platform that will bring all users and providers of shipping services together.
 
He said the Cargo Tracking Note is also a very important platform for trade facilitation.

 
“We see cost of doing shipping in Nigeria coming down drastically, already NSC is about signing a very important Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the shipping companies and this will reduce drastically about 35 percent the cost of doing business in Nigeria. 
 
“If  we perfect our system,  we will find efficiency and competition because competition drives down the cost. 

We want the cost of transportation to be minimal part of cost of production and right now the transport cost is very high, but it is our hope that after the single window, cargo tracking note and negotiations with shipping companies the cost will come down drastically,” he said.
   
The Minister for Tansportation, Rotimi Amaechi, bemoaned a situation whereby Nigeria has not been able to implement the National Single Window Platform, which is expected to aid clearance of cargo in 24 hours.
 
“It is rather unfortunate that Nigeria is the only country in West Africa that is yet to implement this (single window) scheme,” he said.
 
Amaechi, disclosed this while officially declaring open the workshop of joint standing committee of Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC), and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), hosted by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Abuja.
   
He however said the Federal Government has made remarkable progress in the development of trade support infrastructure such as railways, roads and other facilities.

   
Chairman of the Governing Board, NSC, Mai Mala Buni, said with trade facilitation emerging as important subject in the world trading system and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) coming into force on 22nd February 2017, it is heartwarming that many countries in the West and Central Africa Africa Sub-regional have ratified it.
   
According to him, it is expected that full implementation of TFA could reduce trades costs by as much as 14.3 per cent and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion yearly with biggest gains accruing to the poorest countries.
   
“The development of port and hinterland connectivity infrastructure are critical to the economic development of any country, be it coastal or land locked.

It is imperative that all necessary facilities and processes be systematically provided to enhance the supply chain and seamless operation to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the Sub-regional trade within the global trading system,” he said.
 
Chairman, UASC, Sebastian Ilboudo, said the transport sector is a dynamic sector and therefore the infrastructure must go in line with dynamism, adding that the meeting would enable the delegates to review freight costs and agree on necessary solutions.
 
Secretary General, UASC, Giscard Lilian Ogoula, said ports concession has been carried out in many ports over the years with a view to enhance efficiency and boost contributions to economies of member states, but the ports concession is rather bringing high costs that Shippers are finding it difficult to afford.


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