The 17 years tussle between the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and courier operators over the regulation of courier industry has finally been put to rest, as NIPOST has decided to jettison the country’s courier regulation.
The Postmaster General and Chief Executive of NIPOST, Adebisi Adegbuyi, who was in Lagos last week to launch 95 new motorcycles for last-mile delivery services for Lagos zone, told THISDAY that NIPOST has finally surrendered the struggle on courier regulation, to enable it focus on its core mandate of postal reforms and service delivery.
“By virtue of the Postal Reform Bill that is before the National Assembly, NIPOST has surrendered the regulatory powers and we are no longer interested in regulating the courier industry. The global best practice is that NIPOST cannot be a regulator of courier operators and at the same time operating a courier business. We must not sacrifice the interest of Nigerians because the post belongs to Nigerians. Again we must render social services to Nigerians and the post is one avenue to render social services to Nigerians,” the Postmaster General said.
The tussle for an independent courier regulator dates back to 2001 when the First Nigerian Courier Summit was held to discuss the need for a courier regulatory body.
At the end of the summit, a communique was issued and the Courier Regulatory Department (CRD), which is an arm of NIPOST, was established same year to regulate courier activities in the country.
In 2004, the Second Nigerian Courier Summit was held and it was an avenue to assess the industry and the after-mart of the 2001 summit. At that second summit, the courier operators demanded for a neutral courier regulatory body outside of NIPOST, as it is done worldwide.
At the Third Nigerian Courier Summit, held in Lagos on October 28, 2016, the issue of an independent courier body resurfaced. The core courier operators under the aegis of the Association of Nigeria Courier Operators (ANCO) had continued to push for a courier commission that is outside of NIPOST. Their argument was that NIPOST would not be a fair umpire in the courier industry, where it also operates as a courier operator under EMS Nigeria, which is the courier arm of NIPOST.
Their fear was that CRD would not be fair in its regulatory duties since the NIPOST EMS was competing with them in the same courier business. For this reason, the core courier operators continued to push for an independent regulatory body outside NIPOST, and CRD, which was in line with the struggle, was championing the course, with a view that CRD would be completely detached from NIPOST and made a courier commission, independent of NIPOST.
The President of ANCO, Mr. Siyanbola Oladapo, had argued that “It is worrisome that CRD, which is an arm of NIPOST, is the regulator of courier industry where NIPOST operates as a player through EMS Nigeria. NIPOST cannot regulate itself in a very strict manner, hence the need for a neutral body that will regulate the courier industry with fairness.”
The struggle for achieve a courier commission however suffered setbacks as a result of the non-passage of the country’s courier regulatory bill into law by past National Assembly members.
Assistant Postmaster General and a former Head of CRD, Dr. Simon Emeje, who had been championing the struggle for a courier commission, said the move became necessary, in order to further empower courier regulation in the country, occasioned by the increasing rate of unethical practices carried out by some courier operators, who were bent at doing everything within their positions to destabilise the courier sector.
According to Emeje, the current laws on which CRD operates are not strong enough to address the challenges in the courier sector. “We need the Nigerian Postal Commission that will be empowered by courier regulatory law, just the same way it is with other regions of the world. The law will empower the commission to do a lot in the area of policy enforcement that will transform courier operations in the county,” Emeje said.
In spite of the long time struggle for the establishment of the Nigerian Postal Commission that will regulate the courier industry, Adegbuyi who became the Postmaster General last year, said NIPOST had to give up the struggle to enable it focus on its core business. According to him, NIPOST has a lot of things to do to achieve its desire of posting the post into property, adding that NIPOST is currently leveraging technology to reposition its operations.