Integrity is our watchword at Shippers’ Council, says Bello
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has said that the Council has taken time to ensure that its integrity remains untainted in the performance of its statutory obligations as the economic regulator of the ports.
Bello also stated that part of the problems of the ports was the level of corruption in the system, adding that this makes the cost of doing business expensive.
He disclosed that the management of the Council has over the years made credibility their watchword as an umpire in the ports industry.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos recently, he explained that without credibility, the Council would not be in a position to achieve so much as the ports economic regulator.
Bello said: “When we were appointed as ports economic regulator, one of the terminals said after all, it is just another government agency. But we made a resolution that we will never compromise. We have to have integrity to enjoy that respect for us to regulate. A regulator who takes money from the people you are regulating is a joke; because if you go out, they will say, what is he saying, because you have already compromised integrity.”
Bello, whose Council was appointed the lead agency in the implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), said apart from corruption, Nigerian ports were not expensive, as service providers have not increased tariff in the past 10 years.
Bello cited the boarding of ships for inspection by security agencies as one of the examples of corruption in the ports.
According to him, some of the personnel of the agencies were in the habit of harassing captains to collect bribes from them, a development he condemned as bringing bad image to the country.
“Some will go and harass captains of ships to collect bribes. Why will anybody go and ask the captains for bribe,” he queried.
He also disclosed that it was in a bid to collect bribe that some of the agencies would prefer to board a ship separately instead of embarking on joint inspection.
“Why will agencies board the vessel at different times? It is because they don’t want to do that in the presence of everybody else so that they can privately negotiate how to be settled,” he said.
Bello disclosed that this was what forced the Council to insist that boarding of ships for inspection should be done jointly at the same time.
Joint boarding, he explained, eliminates delay for ships as such exercise could be completed within 30 minutes.
“Captains don’t want to come to Nigeria because of the delay. Ship’s turnaround time is a factor determining the efficiency of a port. For us in the NSC, we are determined to change things,” he said.