By Babajide Okeowo
As the economic regulator of the maritime sector, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has announced a collaboration with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) to protect the interest of port users in the country’s maritime domain.
The two government agencies made this known at a sensitization programme for stakeholders on consumer rights and responsibilities in the port and shipping sector held in Lagos.
The Consumer Protection Regime (CPR) in the shipping and port sector according to the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Shippers’ Council is aimed at ensuring that port users are not exploited in any way.
Jime, who was represented by Adaku Okam, director of human affairs, NSC, said the CPR would ascertain the challenges of various regulated service providers and users, and propose solutions.
He said the collaboration started in 2020 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two agencies.
The Executive Secretary said when established, the CPR would address the issue of infringement of rights.
“The CPR aims to achieve seamless operations with little or no infringements of rights, we will use the platform to disseminate sector-based information on the subject, and provide an avenue for stakeholders to give feedback on infringements of rights and possible areas that need improvement if necessary,” he said.
Speaking on the MoU, Jime said the agreement was to collaborate and work together on specific areas of concern for the two agencies in the industries.
He said the collaboration will also promote competition and consumer protection.
“The idea was to bring sanity in the conduct of shipping and ports business to ensure harmony, fair trade practices, and efficiency in the sector,” the executive secretary said.
“And prosecution of erring service providers and users related matters, sharing of information and intelligence, consumer education and awareness as well as enforcement and compliance.”
The NSC boss added that there are plans by the agencies to conduct sensitisation exercises at various port and inland locations.
He explained that the essence of the sensitisation is to get necessary inputs from stakeholders on how the industry can operate seamlessly with little or no infringement on the rights of users and providers of shipping and port services.
“This is to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in the process of developing the CPR so as to build trust and confidence before rolling out the scheme,” Jime said.
On his part, Babatunde Irukera, executive vice-chairman of FCCPC, said all consumers — whether freight forwarders, shippers, or any other practitioner — would benefit from the scheme.
Irukera, who was represented at the event by Tam Tamunokobia, Director of Legal Services at FCCPC, commended the NSC for the corporation while emphasizing the need for consumers to be protected.
“One thing we are here for is for the consumer, whether you are a forwarder or a shipper or a member of the Shippers’ Council or FCCPC, what we are here for is the welfare of the consumer.
If all we do has not expressed the interest of consumers, we have failed. In everything we do the consumers should be first whether at the port, at the point of entering into an agreement, we must ensure that the consumer is protected.
We need to push the frontiers of our cooperation and collaboration to a higher level and I commend the council for collaborating with us.
When we collaborate, the consumers will be the beneficiaries” he added.