The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), is set to release a new guidelines for all haulage operators in the nation’s seaports.
The guidelines will be according to global standard practices for companies into haulage business.
Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello who disclosed this to the executive members of the League of Maritime Publishers and Editors during a visit to his office explained that the new measure was to ensure efficiency in the ports system as far as haulage is concerned.
Under the guideline, truck owners involved in haulage services will have registered company with at least a minimum of six trucks, insurance cover for goods on transit, tracking devices for the trucks.
He said that any company which does not have the capacity to own six trucks will not be allowed to operate.
Bello however explained that the implemetation of the new guideline will be carried out gradually.
Noting that Nigeria already has some good haulage companies, he said, there was the need for more that will be able to handle project cargo.
Bello said, “We are going to have conditions for operating a haulage company. We are going to have a minimum of six trucks for a company. A company will have a registered office, an insurance cover for goods on transit and a tracking device for the trucks…. Any company that does not have the capacity to own six trucks will not be allowed to operate. Its implementation will be gradually done.
“Even now, there are some good trucking companies, but we need to have more of them. Nigeria is going to have a lot of project cargo in import and export but we need the trucking system to be organized. We are expecting that in three years time everything would have taken shape”.
Bello said that the Council expects serious competition under new guideline, adding that the current cost of haulage services was alarming.
For instance, he said that it takes N1million for a truck to take goods to Yola.
But he added that this will go down with the planned rail system, stating that with rail services, the cost could be N300,000.00.
He expressed optimism that the current issues of congestion and bad road in the ports will soon be over by the end of this year.
“The roads would have been fixed to a reasonable extent and the congestion would have stopped”, he said.
Bello gave an indication that the guideline is coming with the completion of the road rehabilitation work in Apapa.
“So when we have the roads done we are going to re-fleet the trucks. We are going to have conditions for operating a haulage company”, he said.
The NSC CEO also disclosed that the shipping companies have decided to withdraw their case against the Council on the issue of shipping line charges before the Supreme Court.
Bello said this will lead to 25 per cent reduction in tariff by the shipping companies as being negotiated by the ports economic regulator.
He further explained, ”Recall that the Council had written to the terminals and shipping companies on the need to reduce the terminal and shipping line charges, and now the shipping companies have agreed to reduce their charges in line with the notice. They said they would abide by it and withdraw the case in Supreme Court. So it is the penalty for the charges that we are talking about that is the 25 percent of the total monetary worth. So with this we talking about 25 per cent decrease in port charges. It is remaining the terminals. We need to get the terminals to comply with this. Because if we go to the Supreme Court and win there will be trouble. The terminals will be shut down because they can’t pay over a trillion naira and remain in business or not suffer.”
Bello further explained why other critical stakeholders need to be part of the port review exercise being carried out by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), saying that this was because what happens at the ports affects every sector of the economy and Nigerians.
“You need to bring stevedores, truckers, insurance, shippers, freight forwarders, Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), which is also a party, so you cannot run an agreement when you also have obligations. This is an open society, so you cannot manipulate things, whatever you do will affect the larger society. That is why we are suffering now. That agreement was hidden from Shippers council for than one year after it was signed. Everybody was hiding it just like the charter party agreement of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). They hide it and say it belongs to them. No. It belongs to Nigerians! It is meant for the people to see and comment on areas for improvement”, he said.