• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Nigeria yet to reap from port reforms 8yrs after concession, says NSC

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Nigeria is yet to start reaping the gains of port reforms eight years after the concession of the nation’s seaports, as economic activities in the port sector remain unregulated.

Tahir Idris, deputy director (shippers complaints), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), who revealed this in Aba at a stakeholders’ awareness seminar on the new role of NSC as the ports economic regulator, stated that the development led to rise in costs as operators increased tariff arbitrarily.

In a paper titled ‘Ports Economic Regulator: A Panacea to Post-Concession Challenges in the Nigerian Port Sector’, Idris noted that although the NSC’s intervention prior to conferment of economic regulator status had superintending effects on quality and cost of service and also created the desired public awareness for critical stakeholders in the sector, the negative effect of the absence of a referee was severely felt by all.

According to him, the Federal Government realised that the NSC was the only government agency that performed economic regulatory roles in the port sector without sufficient power of enforcement, which prompted it to strengthen the council to fill the vacuum created by absence of a regulator.

“The Federal Government’s decision is not only in line with international best practices, but also in accordance with the provisions of the concession agreements that brought the private operators into the sector,” he said.

“With its new status, NSC will ensure efficiency at the port, reduction in cargo dwell time and cost of doing business, entrenching healthy competition for the benefit of all stakeholders, improvement in vessel turnaround time and increase in cargo throughput, which will invariably lead to increase in revenue generation by both government and the private sector,” he added.

Earlier in her address, Ada Okam, coordinator, South-East zonal coordinating office, NSC, organiser of the workshop, explained that since the appointment of NSC as the economic regulator of the port, the council has been at the forefront of consulting and negotiation with all parties operating in the nation’s ports.

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According to her, though the council has since its establishment been involved in quasi-regulation, its recent pronouncement as ports economic regulator has further expanded its scope of regulation.

She observed that the task ahead of the council now was enormous, but promised that they were working assiduously to coordinate all economic activities at the ports, protect investments and integrate all services in order to increase efficiency, fairness and competitiveness in the nation’s ports.

“I can boast that today our nation’s ports are witnessing changes in terms of service delivery and costs,” she stated.

Uzoamaka Anagor