As the controversy surrounding the proposed registration of port service provider in the Nigerian ports by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) rages on, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria has identified the need for some level of regulations and organization of practitioners in any sector maritime sector inclusive.
The National Executive Director of CILT, Mr. Paul Ndibe who made this position known in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos last Friday said that if one recognized the role of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the commercial regulator of the port, it was important that it should have a clean record on the port in question in terms of who the terminal operators of the port were and the record of parties who had facilities in the port that it had an oversight function.
Ndibe noted that it presupposed that those who provide services in the port managed by NSC as the commercial regulator ought to have a record kept with the Council so that it (NSC) would know at every point in time the size or the number of the service providers in particular activity saying “They are in a position to also advise government or other regulatory agencies whether they are in short supply or in large supply and that will enable government to initiate some policies”.
He said,” If that also is correct, then I wouldn’t see why those who offer services in situation like the port will not want to be under a certain level of government control or monitoring. As freight forwarders, they are organized and they have a body, why are they members of an organized sector? Because they have to come under a particular body and their hierarchy keep a governance structure for them and they should know who the operators are.
“So, if they agree that they should have a body as freight forwarders and they grouped themselves and operate under a particular guideline, so, why would they object that government should not know and register them as individual because they render services to the port? So, that government can classify the services they render and then, if they dominate in one sector, they can segregate them so that other sectors in the maritime can have a fair share so that things can be more efficient.
“So, if people are objecting to that, they should tell us why but it is not in their position to even object. The issue is that it is a government policy and it is to the healthy environment that ought to be created within the maritime sector. There should be some elements of control, some elements of monitoring and then some elements of even knowing who the operators in the port are and which terminal are they eligible to operate and which services can they render. It is important not just for maybe freight forwarders but for those who provide other services like trucking, they should be known. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the commercial regulator of the port should know them and group them and know the number of trucks per day they required because ship arrival and their consignment might not be the same.
“So, in order to really organize them better, which nobody is doing currently and as commercial regulator of the port, which service the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is providing, they are in a position to know whether tankers are to come in first because of discharging of petroleum products or flatbed because of containers in the port or bulk carriers because of whatever that is in the terminal. So, they are in a position to do that but even if the truck providers are not grouped, if they don’t know them as to know what capacity they have in terms of the services they can provide, they won’t be able to make the port efficient.
“So, having them grouped in that form and knowing their capacity or the number and try to march them with the requirement of the port is what I think Shippers’ Council wants to do and it is not out of place”.
Asked to comment on the fee attached to the registration exercise, the National Executive Director said,” Because it is an administrative thing, there should be an effective cost, somebody should be recruited to do that thing, a database can be created, equipment will be deployed to it and somebody will maintain the record and provide them as management information for government decisions. For purposes of that, since it is not in the previous expenditure pattern of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and it has a registration fee for those who are to be enlisted in order to do that, it is not out of place because certain services will be rendered as a result and that service has a cost.
“So, if they ask them to register as a result, when they registered with their individual associations, did they not pay annually? If they pay annually, why won’t they pay for registration? It is a professional practice and if they want professionals who render those services to be registered with them, they should be able to pay for such professional service”.
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