By Omotilewa Quadri
The Federal Government is working on processes and modalities to drive down the high cost of shipping goods to Nigeria by at least 35 percent to make Nigerian ports efficient, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, has said.
Bello spoke on Tuesday at the sidelines of the two-day Sub-Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committee Meeting of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) with the theme “Port Concession in West and Central Africa: Impact on Economies of Member States.”
He said that shipping to Nigerian ports is the most expensive in West Africa.
“Yes, Nigerian ports are the most expensive in West Africa. But don’t single out anybody for blame. Don’t single out the terminal operators, don’t single out the shipping companies, don’t single out the freight forwarders and don’t single out the government. All of them are culpable,” he said.
According to him, the so-called diversion of Nigerian bound cargo to other ports is not diversion but a decision of shippers based on high cost and inefficiency at Nigerian ports.
“It’s a matter of choice because of the cost. Cost and inefficiency drives shippers away. The long dwell time of cargo also drive shippers away but we are trying to restore this. Trade facilitation is what will bring cargo to Nigeria,” he said.
Some of the government’s efforts to change the narrative around the ports, he said, include the cargo tracking note and the single window that will soon be implemented.
Bello said the National Single Window scheme would eliminate inefficiency and lead to simplification of documentation.
“It will lead to transparency and short dwell time of cargoes. Already a committee is set up by the Vice President to look at this national single window co-chaired by NPA and Customs Services and NSC is also a member,” he explained.
“The same thing with the cargo tracking note platform for trade facilitation. We hope that when all these things come together, we will have very meaningful and efficient transportation agencies.”
He said the NSC is about signing a memorandum of understanding with shipping companies to drastically reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria.
On ongoing review of port concessions he said, “The review of concession agreement for now; NSC is not participating and NSC is a representative of so many things. You cannot have a meaningful port concession agreement without the input of NSC. So I am aware the Federal Ministry of Transportation is looking at it because one has to take the interest of all users.
“We should operate an open society; so enemies of open society will not succeed in this concession agreements. NSC will insist that it be part of the concession agreements because NSC is a port economic regulator and also a representative of the users and providers of shippers’ services,” he said.
In his keynote address at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said, “Nigeria has made progress in the development of trade support infrastructure such as railways, roads as well as the establishment of inland dry ports and truck transit parks in several locations across Nigeria in order to bring shipping closer to service users in the hinterland.”
The Minister called on landlocked countries to take advantage of the Kaduna dry port, which he said is targeted at providing services to these landlocked countries for the carriage of transit goods through Nigerian seaports.
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