Shippers’ Council Clamps Down On Illegal Port Users, Launches Online Registration Portal

By Babajide Okeowo

Shippers’ Council Clamps Down On Illegal Port Users, Launches Online Registration Portal

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Emmanuel Jime has disclosed that the council is ready to rid the port environment of illegal port users.

To this effect, the council, Friday launched an online portal for the registration of all categories of regulated port users and operators to establish and maintain their accurate data.

He disclosed that in a clear departure from the past when the Council was unable to sanction those not supposed to be within the port’s environment, having comprehensive data of those operating within the port’s environment will enable the Council to exercise its regulatory function.

“People actually are mistaken most of the time in thinking that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council in exercising our mandate as port’s economic regulator, that we do not really have the teeth to be able to bite.

 And that’s not true. We actually have within the regulatory framework sufficient enough ambit that allows us to be able to sanction. But, you’re not able to sanction anyone if you are not identifying them.

This registration gives us that tool that allows us to be able to say to an individual that, look, you are not a legitimate individual that can exercise the conduct of this business within the ports” he disclosed.

He added that having the various port users registered will assist in curbing the excesses of operators who exploit consumers.

“In the past, we’ve had a situation where it does seem as if this is an all-comers affair. People who ordinarily have no business getting involved in the port sector of the economy are given the opportunity because we do not really know who they are, this way, these people are able to carry out very fraudulent activities.

We have situations where there are people who are conducting business here that you are not able to account for. It is clearly almost impossible for there to be sanity in this manner.

So, this particular platform was established so that we can first get all the stakeholders that are actually working in this industry to be registered.

When you register people then, of course, it becomes easier to be able to not only identify them but to also mention that whoever is best conducting business in our port actually has the ability and is very well licensed in order for them to be able to carry out business in the industry.

Again, this also enables us to track and also tackle the excesses of some of these service providers in the ports with regard to the exploitation of consumers” he added.

Jime also disclosed that the Council has been able to secure the buy-in of stakeholders who vehemently opposed previous attempts to do this.

“There’s buy-in by the industry stakeholders. You see, this actually is consistent with the new environment that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been able to enable to engender.

When we started out as the port’s economic regulator, there was actually resistance because I believe there was a misunderstanding of what the role of the Council was as the port’s economic regulator, and I believe we have pretty much walked away from that challenge.

So now there is a recognition that the role as the economic regulator is actually desirable for the efficient running of our ports and it actually benefits everyone, as a matter of fact.

Part of the challenge, I think, in the past was perhaps the feeling that this was geared toward revenue generation more than anything else.

Now we made clear that that’s not our purpose. Our purpose actually really is to use this platform to be able to actually assist us in regulating the sector, whatever is it that is going to be paid by way of administrative tax” he clarified.

Earlier, the Director of Consumer Affairs, NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu observed that one of the responsibilities placed on NSC when it became the nation’s port economic regulator in 2014 was the obligation to register all port operators and port users.

“NSC offers a lot of services around training, education, and capacity-building programmes. The only people who will benefit from these services will be those who are registered with NSC,” Agu remarked.

Chief Agu equally described the online registration as a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) function of the Council, stressing that the era of faceless shippers, untraceable freight forwarders and other hidden service providers have ended.

He also posited that the Complaints Unit of NSC which attends to stakeholders’ challenges in port business and arbitration services by the Council will henceforth only be available to operators and port users registered with the Council.

The event also featured a step-by-step demonstration on how to register with NSC via the online portal from the Assistant Director, ICT of the council.

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