UNDP, NSC, NPA, others form Steering Committee
President Mohammed Buhari is expected to launch in June 2016, the maritime industry harmonized Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) programme designed by all the government agencies operating in the port. The SOP was designed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
SOP is a programme aimed at ensuring consumer satisfaction and reducing the incidence of corruption, especially through human contact in port service delivery system.
Every agency is expected to have a set of SOP which will collectively be hosted in a Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to be operated by a steering committee, made up of many agencies but domiciled at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), which is the designated port economic regulator.
In a chat with MMS Plus, the lead SOP project consultant, Barr. Chibuzor Ekwekwuo said that President Buhari had been contacted to launch the SOP programme in June, next month, while expressing confidence that the problem of service failure complaints would be constantly addressed as well as inquiries for port services equally treated with dispatch, adding that, “you can access the portal from the comfort of your home. So, the issue of the SOP is not whether it will be done, but how to ensure that it meets the aspirations of the people. However, our confidence here again is that internet penetration in Nigeria today is gone high so the portal will work,” the consultant stated.
Some of the agencies involved in SOP drafting are: Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), NSC, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), while private sector companies have been designated as stakeholders, according to Barr. Ekwekwuo.
Asked the role of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in SOP in event of service failure, Ekwekwuo said that an aggrieved port user is free to seek redress in court or approach CPC without the Shippers’ Council, but advised that complaints of failed services should be addressed to the Council which is the port economic regulator.
Explaining further on the SOP, Ekwekwuo said: “The SOPs are to guarantee the diffusion of knowledge about the procedures applicable. Often times, you find that citizens and consumers don’t even know what they need to do to get services from the public agency and sometimes they don’t know what the internal procedures of the public agency is. With the SOP, the ordinary citizen will know what he needs to do to get any particular service from the agency. Through the SOP, the consumer will be sure of what to expect from the service providers and the service provider also knows what to expect from the customer”.