A former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Engr. Omar Suleiman has said that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) cannot be transformed into the National Transport Commission (NTC) to assume the role of regulator for the transport sector.
In an exclusive interview with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office in Abuja, Suleiman explained that with the NSC championing the establishment and management of inland container depots (ICDs), as well as interfering in tariffs, among other reasons, it cannot function as a commercial regulator of the port.
He also said NSC lacks technical capacity to transmute into the National Transport Commission.
He said, “You cannot be commercial regulator and still be managing port infrastructure like ICDs. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) at the moment cannot be a commercial regulator and it cannot be exactly a commercial regulator, because it was only appointed to do commercial regulation when it was already many years after and secondly it has not passed through the legislature.
“Meanwhile, Shippers Council is holding some responsibilities that a commercial regulator should not do. A commercial regulator has to function fully only as a commercial regulator. For instance, Shippers Council is still into tariffs. The council is still the one demonstrating inland container depots (ICDs). You cannot be commercial regulator and still be managing port infrastructure like ICDs and setting tariffs; you can’t be a commercial regulator and do that. A body will have to do that and it cannot also be an operator.
“Shippers Council is now an operator with the role it is playing in establishing ICDs. So the concession came without a commercial regulator, whereas at the time of the concession, there should be a commercial regulator to cater to the industry.”
He noted that the roles of a commercial regulator of the ports have been captured in the National Transport Commission bill now before the National Assembly.
“Nigerian Shippers Council also has no capacity to transform to a transport commission because the transport commission has technical responsibilities. It includes some technical regulations in the areas of infrastructure, so Shippers Council cannot handle that.
“If you make Shippers Council a transport commission that will mean that it will be into railway, land transport and that is what I may not agree on. It has a name “Nigerian Shippers’ Council” so, if you want them to function as the transport commission that name has to be scrapped and set up properly to reflect transport commission. But then what will happen to Shippers Council, because they have a name and a purpose,” he noted.