The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has demonstrated strong capability in functioning as an economic regulator of the nation’s ports. So far, the NSC has handled more than 2000 cases and collected N20,834,000 from a foreign based company and more in the country on behalf of shippers.Yet, the Council says all these are just tips of the iceberg of what it intend to achieve after ongoing restructuring of the Council is completed within the next few weeks.
Already, the Barrister Hassan Bello-led Council, which daily plays host to stakeholders, addressing various issues including cargo defense fund, (CDF), litigation/ Arbitration, refunds and demurrage has been commended in recent time for its show of maturity in handling the salient challenges facing the industry players.
One, among the recent accolades that have greeted the era of Bello came from industry players who praised him for championing the recovering of the sum of six million naira as container deposit for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and four vehicles belonging to one Olusoji Alade, a development that won the agency the new name as “an era of a new Nigeria”.
Alade had drawn the attention of the Police through his clearing agent to the fact that unknown person used a fake telex and his drivers’ license to clear the three containers bearing the said vehicles at the Tin Can Island port Lagos. “I went to the police which in turn directed me to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council,” he said, adding, “Like in movie, the council personnel swung into action and before 21 days, they did not only recovered by vehicles, they saved me from losing the sum of N2,797,914.75 to a fraudulent clearing Agent.”
He is not alone. Duncan maritime ventures limited, a frontline customs license agency has also expressed dismay over what it described as unprecedented level of professionalism and friendliness exhibited by the personnel of the council during at a fence-mending meeting that was convened to resolve some issues between the agency and the company. “We hope these attributes will continue so that the maritime industry will grow,” the elated agency said through its general Manager, Abiodun Barde. The firm commended the Council for resolving all the issues outlined in a letter of protests dated June 2, 2016 written by Kezim Services Agency Limited.
The rain of appreciation never ceased. From Enugu, Anambra, Port Harcourt, Kano and Borno States to the lips of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF (Tin Can Island chapter), the demonstration of a deep knowledge of the issues and enviable team Bello has put in place at the council that has enabled it to swiftly respond to issues is said now seen as pacesetting in the history of the government owned agency. “We congratulate the apex regulatory body for their quick response and the reduction therein from three foreign shipping companies namely: Mearsk line Nigeria, China shipping and Safmarine shipping. We wish the management of Nigerian Shippers Council more fruitful services to Nigeria”, NAGAFF Secretary in the state, Deacon Dike Kate said.
To Eze Obiora Sunday, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer of Sunchi Integrated Farms Limited, the professionalism exhibited by personnel of the agency 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 totaling millions of Naira held in the port by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, the Council prevailed on all the parties involved.
“The shipping company, Safmarine; the terminal operator, Tin Can Island Container Terminal, TCIT and the consignee, my company were called to meetings by the NSC for an amicable settlement. In fairness to all parties, we have lifted the 13 containers and are very proud of shippers council and her personnel that handled the matter”, Chairman of the Enugu based firm said.
Interestingly, while stakeholders are appreciating the council for its visible achievements under Bello’s supervision, a Marine Engineer and one time Nigeria’s Alternate permanent representative at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) High Commission in London, Olu Akinsoji says the Council since becoming an economic port regulator has tried a lot, “even more than other agencies in the ministry. He suggested that new guidelines should be developed, more resources and infrastructure put in place to deal with matters that may arise from to time, adding that government will not make laws for a regulatory body if they have not found sincere, honest and desperate needs to have those laws made to give more lifelines to the agency.