Shippers Council Now Maritime Industry Apex Regulatory Body
At last, the official gazette order appointing the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as the interim Port Economic Regulator (PER)has been released by the Federal Government, even as the gazette regulatory scope has equally been released.
Under the order, NSC has been empowered to regulate the services of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), seaport terminal operators, Shipping companies and agencies, off dock terminal operators, cargo consolidators, logistics service providers, freight forwarders and clearing agents, inland container deport operators, stevedoring companies, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and any other port service provider or user.
The gazetted order which was signed by former president Goodluck Jonathan on 25th March, 2015, was not only instituted for effective regulatory regime at Nigerian Ports for enhanced efficiency but to also address the negative impact of port concession activities on the economy “due to the absence of an economic regulator and to realize the optimal benefits of the Federal Government’s port reform processes”.
Following this, the Council has been saddled with the responsibilities of regulating tariffs, rates, charges and other related economic services at Nigerian ports; monitor all matters relating to the cost, standard and quality of services rendered by the regulated service providers.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of this order, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) shall continue to collect the 7% Port Development Levy while the distribution of proceeds shall reflect the operational realities of the benefiting ministries, departments and agencies, “the gazetted Order stated.
Empowered to discharge its regulatory roles with the administrative backing of the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Council is to negotiate and enter into agreements with conference lines and non-conference lines, shipowners, the Nigerian Ports Authority and any other body in matters affecting the interest of shippers.
Under the Council’s regulatory framework as gazette, any service provider that conceals or refuses to furnish the Council with the relevant pieces of information it requires to work with within the period and in the manner and form specified risks 6 months suspension from operation or be blacklisted.
According to the part 3 of Information and Evidence under “Refusal or Failure to provide information”, “A person who refuses, fails or omits to give any relevant information, evidence or document under regulation 7 of these Regulations shall be issued a warning to provide such information within 5 working days failing which the person shall be suspended from operation for a period not more than six (6) months and if he fails to provide the information, shall be de-registered or blacklisted”.
Also, the Council has the power to enter premises of the service providers under monitoring and enforcement part of the regulation. And as such, “the Council may in writing authorize any of its officials or appoint external inspectors to exercise on its behalf the powers of monitoring and enforcement vested in the Council under these regulations”.