Usman Sanusi (National President, NAGAFF)
The industry is highly desirous of the National Transport Commission and I am in total support that the Shippers Council should take up that responsibility. They have the experience and sufficient structure on the ground to do it. It is true that Shippers Council as it is today is ineffective and does not have sufficient powers and that its enabling Act only gives it advisory roles in the industry, hence the National Transport Commission is much very desirable, it is like we have been having a sort of vacuum.
But, the Shippers’ Council can handle additional role and I am sure that they will be able to mobilize competent manpower to handle it; I know that they have adequate and sufficient manpower to be able to function as National Transport Commission. It is obvious that the NTC will transcend the maritime sector and combine all modes of transportation; including some aspects of air transportation.
A new body can be created, but I am supporting that the responsibilities should be given to Shippers Council, because if a new body is created, it will take a lot of time to take off, but Shippers’ Council will move in within the shortest possible time.
Samuel Babatunde (Sec. Gen., NIS)
I totally support that Shippers’ Council should transmute to National Transport Commission. First, the Council has been handling all activities concerning shippers; be it in the maritime sector, air or other modes. The Nigerian Shippers Council going by the Act which established it allows it to handle all matter elating to shippers and shippers in this case cut across rail, road, water and air modes. For this particular reason, the Nigerian Shippers Council should transmute to National Transport Commission, so as to have the enabling power to be able to address those issues in the areas such as road, rail in addition to the maritime sector where they are ore entrenched.
Lanre Badmus (Maritime Journalist)
The issue of a regulator for the transport sector has been on for a while; it was one of the policy frame work that the Bureau for Public Enterprises proposed and which was approved by the National Council on Privatisation. If you look around, anywhere there is this kind of arrangement, there will always be an independent regulator that will be the arbiter between the landlord and the concessionaires and other major stakeholder within the port system. If we look at our maritime industry, there is the need to have an agency like the Shippers’ Council, not as they are now, but we need an independent body that can intermediate between the operators and rather that create another bureaucracy in the name of creating a regulator, we can fortify the Shippers’ Council in that commission to protect the interests of shippers and other players as well; be they concessionaires, be they stevedores and others. Shippers’ Council has the experience, so that rather look for another agency and start looking for logistics and structures, the council will perfectly well fit into what the BPE and of course the government have in mind.
I think the Shippers; Council should naturally take up the challenge by taking over the responsibility of the National Transport Commission when it eventually becomes a reality.
Ugochukwu Achom (Importer, Alaba Int’l Market)
As far as I am concerned, the Shippers’ Council has not justified its powers, it has neither protected importers like me nor most of Nigerian importers. For instance, we have the Lagos Shippers’ Association, what is the relationship between the Council and the association, it has never come to Alaba to see us, the importers; may be they look at us mere traders, we are importers.
My understanding of their functions is that they must protect us, where was the Shippers Council when the terminal operators were charging arbitrarily and shipping companies were exploiting us. If not for clearing agents, the issue would never have been resolved at least to the extent that it has gone now
Mr Val Usifoh, (Chairman, SAN)
If the scope of the commission is beyond the maritime sector, then we don’t think the Shippers Council can handle it, but if it is for the maritime sector alone, we don’t have any problem with that. It is however a decision to be taken by the government. I know that some stakeholders will not be happy about it; some of them believe that the Council was biased in the conduct of elections into the Council for the regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria; I am talking about freight forwarders now. That is also unfortunate. We think that ultimately, government will take a good decision.