*Upholds Shippers Council Regulations Against STOAN
Followings the raging controversy in the port sub-sector over the progressive storage charges and shipping charges, the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) has admitted that the Federal Government made mistake in carrying out port reforms without economic regulator.
Speaking with a MMS Plus Weekly last week, a source in BPE said that as a government agency that mid-wife the reform, they were not unmindful of the need for an economic regulator, which explains the reason they sent a bill on the establishment of National Transport Commission (NTC), to the National Assembly which could not be passed into law before the reform took place.
The source added’ “We wanted the ministry to maintain the policy angle; NTC for regulation and operations for stakeholders, as the ideal way to achieve sanity in the port system. But when the NTC bill failed we sought for an economic regulator which the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) emerged as. We have gone through the Council’s enabling act and spotted some sections that supported its new role. And so every operator in the sector must respect the NSC as the economic regulator.”
Reacting to the prevailing situation where terminal operators under the aegis of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), took NSC to court over the council’s attempt to stop illegal charges, the source who prefers anonymity said that “the Nigerian Sippers’ Council’s regulations on terminal and shipping charges must be maintained until the determination of the case in court. BPE and Federal Government will not accept a situation where an operator will incite the people against NSC”.
The BPE source also regretted the monopoly status of the terminal operators as a result of the absence of an economic regulator, adding, “if we have a strong institution nobody will care about what President Jonathan is doing. Yes, if our National Assembly is up and doing we will not be bothered about situations in the presidency. We have nine bills before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) including that of the Antitrust Law which is supposed to wipe off the prevailing monopoly status in the maritime sector.
At the meeting called last week at in Abuja at the behest of the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, it was agreed that a forum of stakeholders in the maritime industry be put in place to meet monthly or weekly with NSC as facilitator and the report be sent to the minister for onward action.
The meeting further resolved that NSC should come up with nominees for the committee expected to commence sitting soon to address the issues.
At the meeting were the minister of transport, representatives of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agent (NCMDLCA); Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFEN), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), APMT, BPE, among others.