By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the Nigeria Shippers Council has announced the launching of an online registration user guide for operators and shippers in order to tackle insecurity and return total sanity full operations in the Eastern ports, stakeholders operating at the Eastern ports have condemned the Council for slamming as high as N50,000 as registration fee.
According to the practitioners, the Shippers Council grouped operators into different categories, liner companies, ships agents, terminal operators as one category are to pay N50,000, while other classes of Port users varies from N30,000, N20,000 and N10,000 for the registration.
This registration according to them, is compulsory and renewable annually.
In a chat with DAILY TREND, the Public Relations Officer of Shipping Trade Practitioners Association of Nigeria (STPAON) Dr Babalola Olatunde commended the Council’s initiative, saying that it would solve most of the problem bedeviling the port.
He however condemned the financial attachment to the project, in form of an annual certificate renewal. He said the Shippers Council is trying to use this as a form of revenue generation and not service delivery.
According to him ‘The Shippers Council has launched recently a registration portal based on know your Customers. The project is good on its own as an initiative to help solve some of the problems in the maritime sector in Nigeria.
“But the Council went ahead to demand for registration fee just like other agencies like NPA, NIMASA, NIWA among others. That certificate will be issued and it shall be renewable annually.
“This is like paying for insurance premium without any benefit; only focused on revenue generation and not service delivery or compliance with the responsibilities of NSC as an economic regulator.
“They lump liner companies, ships agents, terminal operators as one class or category to pay 50,000 Naira while other classes of Port users varies from 30,000. 20,000 and 10,000 for the registration ( renewable annually)” Dr Olatunde revealed
The Council had during the launching of the Online Portal for the Registration of Regulated Port Service Providers and Users in Port Harcourt, stated that the process would return sanity in the ports and ensure the ease of doing business in the area.
Speaking, Chief Cajetan Agu, the Director in Charge of Consumers Affairs, NSC, noted that it is the first of its kind in the zone, adding that the digital innovation is to ensure trust in the shipping activities at the ports.
Agu, who represented the Chief Executive Officer of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, pointed out that insecurity is one of the challenges confronting operations at the Eastern ports, adding that the innovation would provide means of tackling it.
He said: “The user guide is to demonstrate a move away from manual registration to on-line platforms. This is going to reduce time and cost. It will also make it easier for stakeholders. It will help us know the people who are customers, shippers and operators accessing the port. It will assist to give out information.
“The registration of the operators will bring sanity in our Eastern ports. If you don’t know the people that are operating in a particular area you cannot manage them. The issues of security is there. When you don’t know anybody secuity is compromised, but when you know the people, secuity is guaranteed. With this we can profile people and know who is doing what in the Port.
He, however, advised those operating and doing business within the Eastern ports to register themselves so they can operate freely.
Meanwhile, Glory Onojedo, the Director of NSC, South-South Zone, disclosed that access into the ports earlier lacked control, adding that the operators and the zone are happy with the move.
Onojedo said: “The registration means so much to us in this zone. If you look at the ports in the Eastern zone particularly, area 1 Port and Onne, access into the ports are lacks effective control.
“As it is now registrations will control access into the port. Most importantly is the fact that when you register on this portal as a service provider or user, it gives some level of integrity to your business. It will aid the ease of doing business.”