The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers` Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, has suggested immediate implementation of an electronic truck call-up system at the nation’s ports.
Bello made the suggestion while receiving a delegation of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) who visited the council’s headquarters on Friday in Lagos.
He recalled that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, conducted a study of the Apapa gridlock and found out that trucks were allowed anyhow into Apapa.
Bello said that the IFC study revealed that there were always more than 4,000 trucks in Apapa, instead of 1,300 trucks.
He suggested that there should be organised trucking companies with at least six to 10 trucks, saying that trucks must be electronically-fitted.
“What we have are individual truck operators with only one truck and most of the trucks are dilapidated.
“We have been meeting the transport companies to ensure changes,’’ Bello said.
The executive secretary said that the NSC served as a facilitator of trade, the port economic regulator and by extension, the regulator of other modes of transportation.
“The cost of transportation is vital to the success or otherwise of your business as part of the production cost.
“We want to ensure that the cost of transportation is reduced through competition and not through price fixing.
“Transportation is also part of manufacturing and manufacturing is what makes the essence of the country,’’ the executive secretary said.
Bello said that the responsibility of the council was to ensure that “there is efficient and timely delivery of shipping services to importers and exporters by shipping service providers under the most economical arrangements’’.
He said that the council also moderated and stabilised freight rates, port charges, local shipping charges, haulage charges as well as enlightenment of practitioners of international trade.
Bello said the NSC had a long historical relationship with MAN, adding that the association could not be separated from the council.
He said that those who drafted the NSC law were conscious of the reason for doing it to reflect collaboration with manufacturers.
“By the Act setting up the NSC, MAN is not only a member of the Board of the NSC but also a member of the Trade and Tariffs Group of the NSC.
“A country that does not manufacture is not taken serious. In all the council’s engagements, MAN is considered a key stakeholder, without which the council would not execute its mandate,’’ Bello said.
He explained that the NSC was appointed the port economic regulator to make sure that manufacturers faced little hurdle, saying that it was important that MAN should become an integral part of the council.
“When we come together, you will be able to advise and mentor us. Together we would shape the policies of the Federal Government,’’ Bello said.
He said that the NSC was given the role of an economic regulator eight years after port concession, saying that there was need to really regulate port charges.
“Some years ago, we issued two regulatory notices to terminal operators and shipping companies to address some observed anomalies in the port system as regards port charges.
“This resulted into a court case and in its ruling, the Federal High Court pronounced that the terminal operators and shipping companies should refund about N1 trillion overcharged the shippers (importers and exporters) to the Cargo Defence Unit of the NSC.
He, however, said there was need for adequate infrastructure at the ports to facilitate cargo delivery.
In his response, Mr John Aluya, Chairman, Corporate Affairs and Logistics/ Strategic Planning Committee of MAN, said that there was need to strengthen collaboration with the NSC.
Aluya said that the NSC was a strategic partner, adding that the maritime
sector was important to manufacturing because most raw materials were imported.
“The ease of getting our raw materials is important to us and the NCS, being the port regulator is working toward reducing the cost of doing business at the ports.
“There is a slow pace of cargo clearance which is affecting the cost of doing business and Nigeria is not alone in this league.
“Government should implement processes and procedures that will enthrone efficient port services,’’ he said.
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The Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, said that there
was need for government to focus more on good port infrastructure to create a conducive environment for the service providers.
“It is not possible for us to operate in an environment that is not cost-effective, because our competitors are daily bringing down the cost of doing business.
“So the port is of particular importance to MAN.
“For the NSC, being the economic regulator, it is important for us to give
you all the support you need, “ Ajayi-Kadiri said.
Also speaking, Mr Francis Meshioye, Chairman, Infrastructure and
Finance Committee of MAN, commended the NSC for establishing the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in eight locations across the country.
Meshioye advised the NSC to improve its synergy with stakeholders.