…As Jonathan Nicol proffers solutions to challenges the 2006 Port reforms failed to contain!***
The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) on Sunday appealed to all the Federal Government agencies involved in cargo Management to find a way in resolving the systemic collapse of government policies relating to Shipping and cargo handling, noting that 2006 Port Reform has failed to curtail myriads of industry problems.
It would be recalled that the NAGAFF Founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam recently made a similar observation, bothering on ports’ systemic collapse and its attendant consequences few days back.
The SALS Chairman, Rev. Jonathan Nicol highlighted this in a remark with the Maritime First, stressing that it was because of these same ‘myriads’ of unsolved problems that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was established by the Federal Government in 1978 to protect Shippers, comprising Importers and Exporters, respectively.
“It is because of the myriads of unsolved problems that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was established by the Federal Government in 1978 to protect Shippers, Importers and Exporters, respectively. Over the years, there had been a systematic collapse of Import Adjustments policies which has remained unsustainable till date.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority jettisoned their role as Terminal Operators and became Landlords in the hope that their present role would improve the quality of services. Some of the space given to (Concessionaire) Operators will last for 25 years; some 12 years; but fast turning into 25 years of immense suffering for cargo owners, under failed Government Import Adjustments policies.
“The Concession Agreement of 2006 has failed woefully, unfortunately. The effect of the presence of our Protectors – the Nigerian Shippers Council – has received tremendous resistance from the benefactors of the old system!” the SALS Arrowhead, Jonathan Nicol lamented.
Digging deep, the revered shipper also identified some of the unsolvable problems that the Government and stakeholders must resolve if the desired goals of the 2006 Port Reforms would be achieved.
*Significant Reduction of charges from all Government Agencies, operating in the Port;
- Restructuring of the Port Concession Agreement based upon collective bargaining as it affects the Nigerian environment;
- Reduction of more Government Agencies operating in the Ports;
- A Government Pronouncement that “Shippers should pay for Container Deposits, which is the norm in order for them to get their container refunds, through their accredited Freight Forwarders”
- The Concessioners should provide accelerated clearing methods to decongest the Ports.
Nicol also took a harder look at intractable gridlock at Apapa in Lagos and blamed the lack of “holding Bay” for empty Containers; noting the absence of any strutured regime for proper evacuation of empty Containers out of the country on regular basis, as it were and advised thus:
**That the Nigeria Customs service should be restructured to follow the rules of engagement without militarising the trade environment with gun throttle officers intimidating the public with their annoying sirens.
B.2. That FOU should be discontinued
- That the authorities Stabilize the Import Duty Exchange rate as approved in the Form M; for Exchange or payment of goods through the banks to normally attract official bank exchange rates and not through the black market’s unstable rates.
B4. The Council of Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria should make sure that Nigerians registered with the Council are protected. Clearing jobs should be reserved for indigenes
- Trade borders should be reopened while discussions should be ongoing with our trade counterparts
The SALS Boss finally stressed the need to empower the Nigerian Shippers Council to take an audit of empty Containers in Lagos as soon as possible, stressing that “This is to enable Shippers to know the exact status of empty Containers now littering the country incase of redress.
“The Shippers Association is conversant with Empty Containers Lease Agreements. And it falls within Temporary Import rules of CEMA”, Nicol further observed, assuring that shippers may no longer fold their hands and watch.
“We will support our Trade partners who wish to take their future in their hands, due to collapse of government import policies. We will help to solve some of the lingering problems confronting our trade”, the Chairman of the Shippers Association of Lagos State further posited.