Shippers’ Council disturbed by extra cost, NIMASA stunned
By Kenneth Jukpor
Following the submission of the National Assembly on the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) last week which also highlighted Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s (NSC) silence on the practice, the Council has described the contract arrangement as void from the outset.
The Executive Secretary of Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello stressed this during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus newspaper in Lagos, yesterday, even as he expressed worry on the additional cost of anchorage in the country.
According to Bello, such practice of additional cost for anchorage has never happened anywhere in the world, even as he stressed that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had the responsibility for anchorage irrespective of the location.
“Who set the cost for the money collected by the company? Shippers’ Council ought to be responsible for this but the Council was never consulted. If Shippers Council was consulted, we would have measured the impact on the port and the economy”
“I’m sure that the cost is passed to the shippers and anchorage ought to be free like NPA’s is free. Anchorage is free in Ghana, Lome and other countries. If this has been done for several years, it doesn’t change the fact that it was null and void from the beginning. It is not voidable but it is void abinitio. It is incurable. They lack the legal capacity to do that,” Bello stated.
Bello noted that despite having legitimate contract and Ocean Marine Solutions Limited’s (OMSL) claim that the operations has been legitimized, there was no legal framework for such operation to exist.
“It rests on nothing. It is like having a contract with an armed robber to steal. The partnership and agreement may be there but stealing voids the whole contract” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has equally expressed concerns on the legitimacy of the OMSL anchorage arrangement.
Speaking with MMS Plus at the weekend, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Gambo Ahmed said; “I have watched this controversy play out but haven’t found the reason to get involved. However, if OMSL claims their activities aren’t at the ports but on the high seas and believe that is sufficient grounds to say they aren’t under NPA; how come NIMASA isn’t involved in that arrangement?”
Gambo stressed that NIMASA is responsible for safety on the territorial waters while NPA had jurisdiction for the ports.
“If they are on the high seas; how come NIMASA isn’t aware of such activities” Gambo queried.
Noting that he didn’t want to be dragged into deep ends of the matter; the NIMASA Executive Director said he expected NPA to react to the Senate’s position which he described as disturbing.
Recall that the legislative report absolved OMSL of any wrongdoing and referred to its operations as conventional and prevalent in other parts of the world.
However, the development has stirred more controversy on the subject as port experts disagree that SAA services attract additional cost anywhere in the world.
The charges collected by OMSL for secure anchorage on each vessel is between $1500 – $2500, daily.