Maritime stakeholders, in Aba, list challenges to international trade

maritime-2• Okpara varsity reaping IGR benefits 

FOLLOWING the Federal Government’s appointment of the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) as the nation’s port economic regulator, it will now ensure that all providers and consumers of shipping and ports services buy into government’s efforts to regulate activities at Nigerian ports (public and private).

The NSC Director, Consumer Department, Azuka Ogo, disclosed this in Aba, Abia State, during a maritime stakeholders’ town hall meeting aimed at creating a platform for discussions on the different dimensions of the problems at the ports and shipping services.

It also aimed to give the NSC a window to develop appropriate guidelines for better shipper-oriented services, ensure transparency and make all players aware of their responsibilities and liabilities.

The stakeholders included the shipping association members, clearing agents, garment, shoe and leather products manufacturers, among others, who looked at international trade and the challenges being encountered at the Nigerian ports.

According to them, the challenges include lateness to work by all categories of workers, IT/computer failure, time wasting at data collection at the gate, and religious distraction by workers who go to pray during office hours.

Others are excessive charges by shipping companies, recent introduction of chemical inspection in China, and sudden fines ranging from N250, 000 to N650,000 per consignment by NAFDAC, as well as illegal presence of government agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

There are equally quarantine, non-prosecution of defaulters, and duplication of service by related groups like Maersk line and WACTS, among others. Ogo however, expressed optimism that such vices as impunity, presumptuous behaviour and non-adherence to procedures, rules and regulations would be minimised, cost of doing business reduced and efficiency enhanced.

With the additional responsibility, she said, NSC “shall create an effective regulatory system for all ports activities that would protect every player to ensure standardisation of services, tariffs, rates and charges that would protect every player’s rights and defend their interests for the realisation of optimal benefits of the Ports Concession Regime.”

She acknowledged that the chaotic state of Nigerian ports was very disturbing and if allowed to continue, would make the ports unfriendly and unattractive compared to other ports in the sub-region.

Chairman of session and Director of Abia Inland Container Project, Dr. Kingsley Osoh, said that when the project becomes operational, ports services would be nearer to Aba and thus address the problems associated with imported goods clearing.

In another development, the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike, has again demonstrated that universities can generate sizable resources internally for the benefit of its staff and students.

After the commissioning of its 10 new hostels, built by the management team under the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Hilary Edeoga, from its internally generated revenue (IGR), the institution last Thursday gave 11 Toyota cars to 11 deans of colleges, who became the first beneficiaries of the cars for deans and other designated top officials.

Among the 11 was a couple – Prof. Titus Nwabueze (Dean, College of Food Sciences and Tourism), and his wife, Prof. Joy Nwabueze (Dean, College of Physical and Applied Sciences).

Speaking before handing over the cars, Prof. Edeoga said the cars were purchased from the MOUA IGR, urging the beneficiaries to use them strictly for official purposes and maintain them.

He explained that the vehicles were branded with the university name, colleges and location addresses as part of “the management’s strategy to sustain the branding of our university.”

He added that management had provided five brand new Hyundai buses and 45 brand new Kia and Hyundai cars for campus shuttle and that 20 more mini Suzuki fuel-economy cars would be added to the 20 existing ones.

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