Shippers’ Council vows to stem capital flight in maritime sector

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) yesterday vowed to stem the tide of capital flight ravaging the maritime industry.

Executive Secretary of the NSC, Barrister Hassan Bello, made this pledge while speaking at a one-day seminar on “Achieving fair and equitable port pricing system in Nigeria” organized by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos.

Bello also promised to ensure a sustainable port pricing system that will boost port operation in the country.

Represented by the Chief Operations Officer, Compliance and Monitoring unit of the Council, Mrs. Catherine Ifeora, Bello said the port plays a crucial role in the economy of any country, hence it must be provided with utmost attention that would ensure smooth movement of cargoes.

Bello stated further that a right pricing mechanism would promote prosperity and growth of the port.

“Wrong pricing can guide port to inefficiency or even extinction; also a high pricing could deprive a port of high patronage of vessels and cargoes.

“Wrong prices will reduce demand for cargo services and when the demand for port services is reduced equipment at the ports will be underutilized. Even with monopoly, high port prices will hurt persons the port is suppose to serve.

“Low port prices, on the other hand, could bring life into a port but congestion may be the order of the day,” he stated.

Bello stressed further that an efficient ports pricing would ensure that port facilities are used in the most efficient manner which would lead to improved asset utilization and cushioned capital flight.

In his remarks at the event, Chairman of the Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapamo, commended the Federal Government for giving the Council the statutory responsibility to regulate the port.

Jolapamo, who chaired the MARAN seminar lamented that “it is only in Nigeria that ships are sent to the port without money by the ship owner to settle dues.” He charged the NSC to ensure that anomalies in the maritime industry are corrected within the shortest possible time frame.

The Executive Director, Admininistration and Human Resources of Sifax Group, Dr. Phil Ofulue, while speaking at the event, said no terminal operator can single-handedly fix rates at the port without involving relevant stakeholders.

He advised the NSC to ensure an effective pricing system.

“We cannot take bank loan with exorbitant interest rates and charge peanuts. The stakeholders have their roles; likewise the government. The regulator should ensure a win-win situation for all,” Ofulue said.

Speaking earlier, the President of MARAN, Bolaji Akinola said the purpose of the summit was to make contributions to the development of an acceptable mechanism for pricing of port services that would be fair to all the parties in the logistics chain in Nigeria.

Akinola also asked the federal government to extend the regulatory mandate of the Council from one year to five years.

The MARAN President said the one year approval granted by the federal government is not enough for the NSC to carry out the daunting tasks it was saddled with.

“It has therefore become imperative that the executive approval be extended to five years while the exigencies of politics should not close the eyes of the federal government to the need to urgently get the Ports & Harbours bill passed this year. The passage of this bill – which has provision for a port regulator – will give the NSC necessary statutory backing to do its job,” he said.

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