…Seeks Withdrawal of Agreement
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Shippers Association Lagos State is spoiling for war with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for allegedly excluding the Nigerian Shippers Council in the processes that led to the recent renewing of the concession agreement between the government and the port terminal operators.
DAILY TREND NEWS had on Monday published an interview with the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr Hassan Bello who revealed that despite being the port economic regulator, the NPA had sidetracked her to renew the agreement with port concessionares.
Furious about the development, Bello said he had written a protest to the Ministry of Transportation, adding that the last of the matter have not been heard as he is preparing to do a more stronger protest to the Federal Government.
Apparently in solidarity with the Council, President of the Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Reverend Jonathan Nicol told DAILY TREND NEWS on Tuesday that the association is calling on the federal government to withdraw the new documents signed by NPA with terminal operators.
Recall that SALS had in 2014 joined the Nigerian Shippers Council in a law suit against Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) over issues bothering on arbitrary port and shipping charges.
Rev Nicol told our correspondent yesterday that with the NPA signing another agreement without recourse to, and without the input of the Nigerian Shippers Council, the motive of getting a workable mechanism for regulated and equitable Port pricing is already defeated.
He said “Shippers Association Lagos State calls on the Federal Government to withdraw any Port Concession Agreement prepared by the Nigerian Ports Authority without the input of The Nigerian Shippers’ Council”
“We are very concerned over the Press release by the Nigerian Shippers Council that another Port Concession Agreement was secretly prepared by the Nigerian Ports Authority without the knowledge and input of key players in the Industry”
“We are in support of the Press Release made by the Nigerian Shippers Council who represents the interests of Shippers in matters relating to Port Charges and price regulations. Without the input of the Nigerian Shippers Council, the motive of getting a workable mechanism for regulated and equitable Port pricing is defeated”
“Therefore, in order to transit without additional burden on the users of Port facilities in Nigeria, Government should withdraw the document and cancel it outrightly” he said
Rev Nicole noted that the Ports Concession Agreement of 2006 has brought untold hardship on Nigerians and one of the fallout is the Apapa traffic that has no solutions whether or not the roads are completed.
According to him, the port reform also introduced impunity in addition to public monopoly.
He added that “The Nigerian Shippers Council has our mandate to represent us where necessary, especially within Government circles to fight for the interests of Shippers”
“Side tracking the Nigerian Shippers Council is a bad signal. Shippers Association Lagos State is in consultation with our 26 State Chapters to fight this course and for the rights of Shippers and also protect the Nigerian Shippers Council”
In an interview with journalists in Lagos last weekend, the Shippers Council boss, Hassan Bello alleged that the signing of the port concession agreement by NPA and terminal operators was shrouded in secrecy.
He said “The agreement should have been made open for contribution of critical stakeholders so that we dont repeat the mistakes that we have had in the past”
“Concession agreements are not supposed to be secrets, they dont belong to any agency, it is critical that the port economic regulator must be mentioned in the agreement, it baffles me as to why issues like that should continue without respect for the economic regulator, and we have made protests to the Ministry of Transportation, saying that whatever happens, the Shippers have never been involved”
“The worst we got (from NPA) was to come and observe, observe what? We are critical stakeholders, the same thing I said about the Lekki Deep Sea port, people should come and build ports that suits Nigerias’ economy, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of Apapa port. I am really angry as far as this issue is concerned, but I believe the ministry of Transportation is doing something about it”