The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has described its ongoing registration of service providers in the nation’s ports industry as very encouraging, adding that it has been embraced by many stakeholders in the industry.
The Council said a wide range of service providers have registered with the ports economic regulator, explaining that only a few were having grudges against the exercise.
The Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, stated that many have come to understand the importance of the exercise and have been cooperating.
Bello said the Council had to reduce the registration fee by 50 per cent to accommodate the views of some industry operators and allow all to register.
The Council said those who don’t register by April 1 will not be allowed to enter the ports.
The Council introduced the registration exercise few weeks ago covering
The registration fee which was introduced few weeks ago according to the Director, Legal Services of the Council, Samuel Vongtau, will help government to check quackery within the system.
Vongtau said that this will help the Council to know the number of service providers operating within the sector, an exercise that will bring sanity in the port environment.
The registration fee covers all service providers in the ports including clearing agents, shipping companies, Indigenous Shippers, Inland container operators, terminal operators and offdock terminal operators. With this, the Council said it will be able to rid the ports of touts and quacks that are currently common.
The President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Increase Uche had said the registration of operators in the nation’s maritime industry by the Council was a good development and should be embraced by all practitioners.
Describing the exercise as in line with international best practices, Uche said all genuine operators in the industry should have no reason to oppose it.
He said it was surprising that few individuals have been opposing the exercising, adding that such people were not sincere to themselves.
The NAGAFF President who said that his members have started the registration exercise was of the view that those who oppose the exercise were individuals who may have no offices to register.
Uche described the fees being collected for the registration exercise as stipends to cover administrative costs which nobody should complain about.
He said that with the reduction of the initial fees by 50 percent, no one except few who may have other ulterior motive should oppose the exercise.
“The NSC as the Ports Economic Regulator in the ports industry and by virtue of the law establishing that, they are entitled to register every operator in the industry and by so doing it might require stipends to get them registered, It is normal for every other agency of the government. Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) collects registration fees too from shipping agents, terminal operators and others. The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) also do the same.
“You discover that every agency does it, even NIMASA that registers vessels collects registration fees for profiling of operators, so what NSC is doing is right. I have heard some people arguing why should NSC collect registration fees. It is in order as far as you have one or two things to do with the NSC, so that in the event of you looking for their assistance they will confirm that you are a known practitioner. So there is nothing about that”.
Uche advised those opposing the exercise to have a rethink as the fee being demanded by the Council is considerate.
He said, “some of them making noise now may simply be those who don’t even have offices. They are the ones discouraging others not to register. No practitioner who understands the importance of NSC will say they will not register. For instance in our case as freight forwarders, it is freight forwarding companies, corporate bodies not individuals and what is required is N5,000. Every professional practitioner knows tat in the course of your belonging to international professional bodies, you pay your annual fees. Even those overseas companies where we network with other freight forwarders across the globe, we pay registration fees. Even as a registered company, you do annual returns every year, so I begin to wonder why people should be opposing the registration, trying to cause trouble where there is none.”
He said NAGAFF will soon issue a statement urging those who are yet to register to do so with the NSC.