Strong indications emerged yesterday that the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) may be willing to settle out of court in a case between it, terminal operators and shipping companies over charges.
The terminal operators and shipping companies both dragged the NSC to court recently challenging its powers to regulate port and shipping charges.
Executive Secretary/CEO of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello who dropped this hint yesterday when he led management staff of the Council to the National Secretariat of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), said the Council was making necessary moves to negotiate with the concerned parties.
He said, “We don’t want regulation to be done by the court; regulation must be done by the industry. The court knows the law but we know what the industry is. So at one time or the other, it is our desire to come together and negotiate these things.
“It is better that these issues are negotiated than litigated and I am sure, we are making the necessary moves and we call on this esteemed association to also look into this matter and see that things are resolved so that we can continue with our functions of regulations.
“We are not a price-fixing organization but if you have any issue about fixing price, come and we will negotiate because we have the freight forwarders, the truckers, it is not us but we have to call all our critical partners to decide.
While noting that the freight forwarding practice is a profession in which its practitioners require constant training to meet up with international best practice, Bello said that when freight forwarders are well trained, they will be able to negotiate with service providers without the intervention of the NSC.
He commended the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) for focusing on the training of freight forwarders, which according to him, has began to impact positively on the profession even as he expressed the readiness of his Council to assist in training.
“The Council will dedicate its funds to the training of freight forwarders because the more freight forwarders you train, the more they can come and negotiate the fees themselves with the service providers and we will just be watching.
“If we have a strong freight forwarding practice, there will be no need for the Nigerian Shippers’ Council,” he said.
He said the NSC has commenced consultation with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian port Authority (NPA) and Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to create equilibrium – a level playing field and an electronic platform that will enable shippers transact electronically to improve delivery of cargo and efficiency of the ports.
He assured that the council would always involve the associations in its negotiations with service providers.
Earlier in his remarks, President of the ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu appealed to the NSC to intervene in the issue of stemming of containers to off dock terminals.
“Most of the terminals are becoming dirty as they no longer stem containers to them as a punishment and it is creating congestion at the port whereby you cannot even access your containers either for examination of for positioning.
“We have never declared a total withdrawal of service because we know the effect of strike on the economy; we know the impact it will have on the image of the country. So we have been trying to manage that but we will like to appeal to you to also tell those who initiate this kind of misunderstanding,” Shittu said.
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