By Dipo Olowookere
Stakeholders have commended the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, (NSC) for settling 2,000 trade disputes since it assumed the role of the port economic regulator and restructuring for more effective service delivery.
The stakeholders stated this in various letters of commendation sent to the NSC on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sum of N20.8 million was also recovered by the NSC from both a foreign-based company and another in Nigeria on behalf of complainants.
The stakeholders commended the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello and his management for attending to complaints bothering on Cargo Defense Fund (CDF), litigation, arbitration, refunds and demurrage.
NSC also recovered N6 million as container deposits made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and also recovered four vehicles belonging to an importer, Mr Olusoji Alade.
According to Mr Alade, an unknown person has used a fake Telex and his National Drivers’ license to clear three containerised vehicles at the Tin-Can Island Port, Lagos, before my agent reported to the Police.
“I went to the Police which in turn directed me to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
“Like a movie, the NSC’s personnel swung into action and before 21 days, they did not only recovered my vehicles, they saved me from losing the sum of N2.7 million to a fraudulent clearing agent,” he said.
Mr Abiodun Barde, the General Manager, Duncan Maritime Ventures Ltd., a Customs licensed agency, lauded the hospitality and friendly gestures exhibited by the personnel of the NSC which convened the meeting to resolve the protest by Kezim Services Agency Ltd.
“We hope these attributes will continue so that the maritime industry will grow,” Mr Barde said.
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Tin-Can Island, Port, Lagos Chapter, also commended the Executive Secretary of the NSC and his team for responding swiftly to their appeal on demurrage waivers on 15 x 40 containers belonging to Messrs SIM Nigeria Ltd.
“We congratulate the apex regulatory body for its quick response and the reduction of charges by three foreign shipping companies namely: Maersk Line Nigeria; China Shipping and Safmarine Shipping.
“We wish the management of the Nigerian Shippers Council more fruitful services to Nigeria”, the Secretary of the NAGAFF chapter, Mrs Kate Dike said.
Mr Sunday Obiora the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Sunchi Integrated Farms Ltd., Enugu, lauded the professionalism exhibited by personnel of the NSC under the Ministry of Transportation still lives his mouth agape.
“We brought before the Council an appeal for waiver on demurrage and rent on 13 containers of poultry-keeping equipment, totalling millions of Naira held in the port by the Nigeria Customs Service and the NSC prevailed on all the parties involved.
“The shipping company, Safmarine; the terminal operator, Tin-Can Island Container Terminal and my company held meetings with the NSC for an amicable settlement.
“In fairness to all parties, we have lifted the 13 containers and we are very proud of Shippers’ Council and her personnel that handled the matter,” Mr 1Obiora said.
Mr Olu Akinsoji, A Marine Engineer and one time Nigeria’s Alternate Permanent Representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said the NSC, since becoming an economic port regulator, had tried more than other agencies in the ministry.
Mr Akinsoji advised the NSC to develop guidelines, put in place resources and infrastructure to deal with matters, adding that government made the council a regulatory body because it was found to be sincere and honest.
He said that the NSC should through the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), bring all agencies under its portal to make “people who are interested in our data base to have confidence because they are also involved in cross-checking CTN in Nigeria’’.
“CTN is a technical information system that is transparent and anybody can cross-check what you are doing so long as the Cargo is truthfully declared, assessed and mechanism put in place that will serve the purpose Nationally and Internationally,” the engineer said.
The General Manager Commercials, Grimaldi Agency Nigeria, Mrs Chioma Ahanonu, in a commendation letter to the Council, said, “NSC is evolving a new Nigeria.”
“No government establishment in Nigeria has stepped out and taken the problems of stakeholders to heart as is currently being done in Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
“You (NSC) have resolved many, even our own. It is a new Nigeria at the Council,” Mrs Ahanonu said.
NAN reports that the Management of the NSC recently put forward the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Ports Service Support Portal (PSSP)
The SOPs and PSSP Portal which was launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is a guide to personnel of government agencies, terminal operators, shipping companies, freight forwarders, road haulage companies, stevedores, marine surveyors and other operators and users of port services.
The mechanism, housed by the Council also allows stakeholders to submit and track the status of their complaints, enquiries and port service requests in an online real-time manner.
All port agencies and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, are all connected to the portal.
Bello said that the automation of the Nigerian ports system “is being carried out by the Council for an effective and efficient port system in Nigeria’’.
“We are also repositioning the Cargo Defense Fund, championing an effective CTN in Nigeria and carrying out massive capacity building in terms of training freight forwarders, critical stakeholders and personnel of the Council to be in tune with the new economic port regulatory status.
“In fact, we are pushing in a new and effective Shippers’ Council that Nigerians and the world will be proud of,” the executive secretary said.