• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Examining Shippers Council’s performance under Jime as Executive Secretary

Examining Shippers Council’s performance under Jime as Executive Secretary

When ex-President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Emmanuel Jime as the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) executive secretary in June 2021, industry close watchers were sceptical of his ability to maintain the standards already set by Hassan Bello, his predecessor.

Jime assumed office and started studying his environment before lunching out his initiatives, which was made easier by the experience garnered from being a former managing director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority.

Two years on the saddle, the primary assignments of the NSC as the port economic regulator and the driver of the shipping business have, to the surprise of many, gained enviable traction in all indices of performance.

While most stakeholders are of the view that Jime was able to understand the mandate of the Council and was seen running with it, a few were of the opinion that the Council would have fared better if he had allowed more time to finish some of his good initiatives.

Assessing NSC in the last two years, Mark Walsh, managing director of ENL Consortium, said the Shippers’ Council has done well.

“The Council has been working directly with terminal operators and shipping companies to move the industry forward. I think they have been involved with the terminal operators, they monitor the terminal operators, and they need to be commended,” he said.

Olayiwola Shittu, a former national president of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said the Council started reaching out to stakeholders in the industry for consultation and cooperation under his administration.

Read also: Cargo Tracking Note will check the importation of arms and crude oil theft – Jime

He expressed worry that the Council has no power to enforce because it was not given any teeth to bite as it should be as the port economic regulator.

On his part, Eugene Nweke, former national president of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, said the Council is not a revenue-driven agency, which is why people would not often see what it is doing.

“The mandate of the Council is to protect shippers’ interest. They create a friendly environment for shippers and other port users to do their business by promoting quality services,” he said.

As the port economic regulator, the Council under the leadership of Jime, achieved a certain level of interventions that gave it a fair sense of control even though not in absolute terms.

For instance, the Shippers’ Council was bullish on promoting efficient port services by monitoring and deepening engagements in the area of dispute resolution between shippers and service providers including shipping companies and terminal operators.

The Council was able to stand its ground on the provision of cost-effective services at the port by controlling the charges imposed on shippers by service providers with an aim to avert incidences of arbitrary charges or overpricing.

It challenged the involvement of the Maritime Command of the Nigerian Police Force in cargo clearance at the port, which according to port users is contributing to delays in cargo delivery to importers’ warehouses.

It also joined forces with the Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure the development of the Port Community System to harmonise and bring all stakeholders at the port under a single platform to ensure efficiency, and the development is at its conclusive stage.

The Council, has in recent times, taken the implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), one of the frameworks through which the NSC has been able to maintain its oversight as a port economic regulator, to an enviable height.

NPPM was established as a Standard Operating Procedure for the port, and it enabled the establishment of the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to drive compliance with the provision of the NPPM.

Read also: Africa must remove tariff, non-tariff barriers to boost trade – Jime

Under Jime, PSTT, a sub-organ of the NSC, heightened port efficiency. It has improved the turnaround time of vessels and reduced corruption through joint boarding of vessels and joint examination of cargo.

Soji Apampa, the CEO of the Maritime Anti-corruption Network (MACN), said in a recent forum that since the introduction of SOP, there had been a significant reduction in demand for bribes at the land side of port operations.

According to him, a lot has also changed in terms of cargo clearance at the port.

Through the operation to clear the port corridor, the PSTT under Jime’s leadership was able to restore sanity to the port access road, which has further reduced the rate of extortion and made it easier for truckers to do their daily business.

Another area in which the Council recorded success is in the area of improved export system hitherto impaired by the unwarranted bottleneck that encourages extortion.

In 2022, Nigeria made progress with the volume of exports due to the PSTT activities which helped clear the port access roads, especially the Apapa-Ijora end of the Lagos port axis to enable seamless export movement into the port.