Port users, professionals condemn STOAN’s attack on NSC Boss
Worried by the huge profile of illegal repatriation of funds by the foreign shipping firms under the platform of Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) and some foreign terminal operators, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has concluded plans to control the unbridled capital flight in the maritime industry.
According to the apex bank, this is one of the measures being embarked upon to stem the drift of the Naira in favour of the Dollars in foreign exchange market.
To this end, the CBN and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) have worked out a monetary policy mix due to be announced soon. This will make it possible for the NSC to inspect the capital flow of the terminal operators and shipping lines agents in Nigeria, especially when the Council’s regulatory duties empowered it to inspect the accounts books of the operators.
However, the shipping lines operating under SAN and the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria(STOAN), have been lobbying the CBN to stop it from issuing the circular against capital flight, MMS Plus Weekly gathered.
A source in the CBN confirmed that“these people have been coming to find out what the new monetary policy on repatriation of funds is, with frantic efforts to dissuade the bank from going ahead with it.”
Meanwhile, a source in the Council had alleged that their findings had revealed that the shipping lines deploy the controversial Shipping Lines Agency Charges (SLAC) levied and collected from Nigerian shippers and port users to execute their lobby at the CBN, Presidency and other official quarters.
SAN, as a lobby platform of the multi-national shipping lines was formed in 1996 with the “objective of providing a common platform for championing and protecting the interest of its members, and to represent them in dealings with the federal and state governments and their agencies with other maritime stakeholder groups”.
Against the SAN creed on website, itnow discuss and negotiate rates or charges of and on behalf of its members.
Several attempts to speak with the Chairman of SAN, Chief Val Usifoh failed. It is being suspected that he has speech-phobia with MMS Plus Weekly, such that even when spotted at events he shies away from our Correspondents when confronted with issues bordering on international best practices in Nigeria’s shipping industry.
In a related development, the Association of Logistics and Ports Professionals (ALAPP) has condemned “the unwarranted attack credited to STOAN in the media as senseless and mischievous”.
In a press statement entitled:” Re-Terminal operators confront NSC bossover derogatory comments: Who is afraid of Nigerian Shippers’ Council as an Economic Regulator for the Ports?” and signed by its President, Chief KolaKolawole, the group cautioned STOAN to be mindful of their choice of words and the activities of their media agent to avoid the breakdown of law and order in the port system, explaining that “ the issues of port charges are operational matters that pinch every port user and have to do with institutions from both private and public sectors, as such has nothing personal with the chief executive officer of the NSC, whom the media agent of STOAN has attacked with invectives.”
According to ALAPP,” The said publication…stated, ”He has been deliberately making false and derogatory statements against terminal operators to the media with the aim of damaging our reputation. He has also been creating division and tension in the maritime industry as he has consistently tried to incite one group against the other thereby risking possible labour unrest and disruption of services in the sector (emphasis mine).
“ALAPP wants to assure NSC that it is strongly behind its drive to effect changes in the ports and enthrone fairtrade and international best practices. We must change the way of doing business in Nigerian ports for the benefits of the generality of Nigerians and the national economy,” the group stated.
“We must add that STOAN should not forget that they have no Act backing up the port concession that gave them right over the management of these terminals; they are operating with the government’s pronouncement just as the NSC has been empowered to regulate the ports with presidential order with the official gazette almost signed now.” ALAPP noted.
“STOAN is always quick to state how much they have invested without the corresponding account of how much they have made, especially through short-changing the Nigerian Shippers via illegal charges which is why most shippers prefer the neighbouring ports’, the group added.
ALAPP continued: “You may wish to know that following the privatization of the nation’s ports, the federal government saw the urgent need to have in place an economic regulator in order to guide against anti-corruption tendencies and fair trade practices by port service providers at the seaport …