Against the backdrop of several complaints from importers, clearing agents as well as the need to drive efficiency and make Nigeria a shipping hub in West Africa, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has revealed plan to audit all terminals at the nation’s seaports across the country.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, disclosed this in Lagos, when the executive council of the Nigerian Chambers of Shipping paid him a working visit.
According to him, “We want the cooperation of the terminal operators; we want to know what they are doing, what is the turnaround time for the ships, the equipment they are using.
“We want to gauge their efficiency, we want to audit the terminals and assist the terminals in reaching their efficiency. The NSC has some neutrality in this is why we are best suited for this. We have neutrality, we have relative autonomy.
“We are working with the terminal operators to have standards; there are regional and international standards. We are doing this because the efficiency of the ports is important.
“Everything is competitive nowadays hence the need for our terminal to be competitive, you cannot decree Nigeria to be a hub in Africa, you create a hub.
“You create hub if you are efficient, you create a hub if the cost is reasonable, you create a hub if the processes and procedures are simplified, transparent and you have automation and technology driving your trade.”
He added: “We want to ensure competition at the terminals in the ports because competition drives efficiency and make us have choice and options. Competition is not only to drive efficiency it also affects others in the sense that when a terminal has all the provisions to give their customers options, others will want to do same so as not to be left out.”
He also revealed that the NSC was working with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to get landlocked countries in the region to use eastern ports infrastructure.
In a related development, the NSC is set to establish a standardised haulage rates and services with a view to ensuring that cargoes are transported in good condition and in the most economical way.
Bello, who said this at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, stressed that the completed survey of standardised rates would create competition amongst haulage companies operating in Nigeria.
Bello, disclosed that the proposal would also bring about a comprehensive and standard haulage rates for all roads transport corridor in the country from all seaports across the country.
The haulage rates, he added, would be reviewed biannually to meet the economic realities of time.
He explained that the NSC and other along with other critical stakeholders would evaluate the proposal thoroughly before adopting it for implementation.
He said: “NSC recently completed the haulage survey from Lagos ports to various destinations across the country and the rates were validated with stakeholders in the presence of the Federal Ministries of Transportation and Power, Works & Housing.
“In order to have a comprehensive and standard haulage rates for all seaports, the Council has also completed the survey exercise from the Eastern Ports to various destinations.
“This is line with the NSC mandates to ensure that cargoes are transported in good condition and in the most economical way. The whole exercise is to establish a well-structured and standardized haulage rates and services for Road Transport Sector for stakeholders’ business plan and economic decision making.
“The NSC after the survey exercise has come up with the proposed rates from Western and Eastern Ports to environs and major road and transport corridors across the country for validation and adoption by stakeholders under the Federal of Transport’s observation.”
Bello, said the NSC observed that most of the trucks operating on the corridors were rickety and do not have comprehensive insurance or Goods-in-transit cover.
He disclosed that it was difficult for haulage trucks to pass through any of the South South and Eastern Local governments without being extorted adding that the absence of a unified standard haulage rates has led to arbitrariness in the business.