After what appear like an indefinite wait, final copy of the much- expected new Port Act is ready and will be tabled before law makers at plenary next week, Shipping Position Weekly can authoritatively reveal.
The new document which incorporates the Independent Port Regulatory Commission (IPRC) has been a subject of controversy and suspicion since the law makers conducted a public hearing on the bill a few months ago.
The Bill seeks to repeal the Nigerian Ports Authourity Act of 1999 and to establish in its stead the Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authourity. It will also provide effective technical and economic regulation of the ports and institute a framework for Private Sector Participation, and for other related matters.
Shipping Position Weekly recalls that the delay in the passage of the all-important bill is largely attributable to the sharp differences in the earlier position that was canvassed by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and that of stakeholders and the believe of the lawmakers that a multi-sector agency in the name of National Transport Commission (NTC) is unworkable and unacceptable.
But, indications that the Bill is ready for presentation to the House emerged last week when the chairman of the House committee on marine transport, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi confirmed that the bill would be presented at plenary soon.
The road map to the present where the bill is now was achieved recently when the committee held an executive business session on the bill.
The meeting which held in Abuja was chaired by the chairman, sub committee on bills, Hon CID Maduabum. It was also attended by the chairman, sub committee on NPA, Hon Lanre Agoro.
Stakeholders who attended included: Mr Vasl Usifo, Dr Waheed Kareem, Otunba Kunle Folarin, Mrs Mfon usoro, Mr Sesan Onileimo, Capt Abiodun Omoteso, Capt Niyi Adeyemo, Mrs Ify Akerele, Mr Azuka Ogor (representing Nigerian Shippers’ Council) and a representative of NPA.
The strategic meeting agreed that under the new Ports Act, NPA should be the technical regulator, while the Independent Port Regulatory Commission will be the commercial regulator.
A copy of the final copy of the new bill which was made available to Shipping Position Weekly revealed that the commission will have wide powers including: provision of an economic and safety regulatory framework for the provision of services in the regulated ports operations, provision of a mechanism for the monitoring compliance of government agencies and services in the regulated ports operations.