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Shippers canvass stronger powers for NSC  to sanction  erring service providers


Abiola Seun

For an end to all forms of illegalities being introduced by shipping service providers against importers and exporters, the Federal Government has been urged to  consider  a more stronger empowerment of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) as the ports economic regulator  to address  such anomalies.

Such  powers,  according to the Rivers/ Bayelsa Shippers Association (RIBASA), would play a tremendous role in helping the ports economic regulator  check   shipping  companies and terminal operators who  have over the years been in the habit of imposing illegal charges in the ports.
President of the  Association, Mr  Ofon Udofia, in a chat with newsmen  while acknowledging  that  the Council has done so well in curtailing  the excesses of the service providers  over the years,  said  the NSC  would do better with  specific stronger regulations .
Udofia said the  scenario would change automatically  if it (NSC) were accorded   more   strong  political will and constitutional powers.
Commending the NSC for  having done well in its statutory obligations and promoting trade facilitation,  he  said  what the  Council deserves  now was more power  to bite harder  after some level of barking against service providers who are recalcitrant in certain  areas.
He was of the view that the NSC should be empowered in the same manner like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)  which has unconstrained constitutional powers to  bring to book erring telecoms service providers.
Udofia particularly referred to some service providers   who according to him have glaringly displayed disobedience , adding that  this will change once the  NSC  starts acting like NCC in checking  their excesses at the ports.
He argued that  the ports economic regulator required strong backing of the law like the NCC to be able to deal with service providers who fail to comply with regulations  as obtained  in the telecoms sector.
He argued that this was even more so if the service providers failed to negotiate charges  and getting approval before imposing  them on the consumers of shipping services.
The shipper  said the painful aspect was that the same shipping service providers as  international players cannot do the same in other countries.
He,  however,  commended the  NSC  for  saving  importers and exports  from  all illegal charges   and other unfair trade  practices from the service providers.
He said that with the NSC,  the service providers have been careful in some of their  unfair trade practices against consumers of shipping services, adding that it would have been a tale of woes for shippers without the NSC.

He also commended the ports economic regulator for  the efforts to  sensitize shippers to do things right for the best interest of trade facilitation and ease of  doing business .

Udofia said, “Government should give NSC   more power to be able to bite as a regulator. When you are regulator, you have to have  the powers to bite as you bark.
“The Council needs more power to be able to check the excesses of some shipping companies or terminal operators as regards their charges .
“Government should give them all the backing. Now that they are barking  so much, if they can bite, people will sit up.
“If you know that if I report you to NSC, they will bite, if you don’t change, it will make shipping companies or whoever to sit up.  We want the government to develop strong  political  will , constitutional power too to make  the fear of Shippers’ Council the beginning of compliance .
“They should be given power to sanction shipping companies and terminal operators who err like what happens in the  communications  sector where NCC  raises the hammer against  any  erring  service provider.
“ You  can imagine  these shipping companies taking the NSC to court  over a regulatory issue and the same shipping companies continue to collect the illegal charges. This cannot happen if there is  a strong political will or law in which the NSC can use to stop these shipping companies. It cannot happen  in Europe or America or Asia”.

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