By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has said that it is collaborating with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) to engender a Consumer Protection Regime (CPR) in the shipping and ports sector in Nigeria.
The Council stated this at the Sensitisation programme for stakeholders on consumer rights and responsibilities in the port and shipping sector organised by the Council in collaboration with Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) in Lagos.
The regime, according to the Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, would encourage competition and consumer protection.
He added that the regime would help in prosecution of erring service providers and users and related matter even as he maintained that it would 3nhance sharing of information and intelligence, consumer education and awareness as well as enforcement and compliance.
Jime, who was represented at the event by Mrs Ada Okam, Director, Human Resources Management Department, stated that the CPR when instituted, will address infringements by service providers and users in the industry as well as enthrone sanity and fair-trade practices in the system
His words, “Section The sensitization exercise we are having today is in line with part 5.1.5 of the MOU which states that parties shall jointly or individually, sensitize and enlighten the consumers and stakeholders on the rights and responsibilities in relation to shipping matters.
“We plan to conduct sensitization exercises at various port and inland locations to get necessary inputs from stakeholders on how the industry can operate seamlessly with little or no infringement on rights of users and providers of shipping and port services.
“This is to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along in the process of developing the CPR so as to build trust and confidence before rolling out the scheme.
“As we are all aware, the shipping industry comprises of various players who in the course of daily transactions are bound to trample and infringe on each other’s rights. These players have rights that are spelt out in the FCCPC Act to include, among others:
“The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, standards and charges/rates of services as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
“The right to be assured wherever possible, access to variety of services at competitive prices
“The right to seek redress against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers of shipping services
“The right to consumer education, enlightenment and information on services availability.
“The sector as at today looks as if there is chaos everywhere. However, when the CPR becomes fully operational, we expect a change of behavior in the conduct of shipping and ports business in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, the NSC boss said that as a way of developing the CPR framework, the exercise would aim to ascertain the challenges of various regulated service providers and users and to propose solutions that may form the inputs for developing guidelines in Consumer Protection
The Regime will set to achieve seamless operations with little or no infringements of rights, use the platform to disseminate sector-based information on the subject.
Also to provide avenue for stakeholders to give feedbacks on infringements of rights and possible areas that need improvement if necessary.
To enrich the programme, papers will be presented on relevant topics that have been carefully selected to be delivered by seasoned resource persons in shipping/port operations and as well as on consumer protection and competition.
Also speaking, the Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera stated that consumers rights should be protected and must be paramount in most of the discussions at the event.
Mr. Irukera who was represented at the awareness programme by Mr. Tam Tamunokobia, Director, Legal Services FCCPC, while commending the Executive Secretary and Council for the collaboration initiative, posited that collaboration would not give room for fighting among agencies
He added that consumers stand to benefit if there are collaborations among agencies.
“We must ensure that the consumer is protected. The issue of consumers should be uppermost in our minds.
“Secondly, to that effect, we need to choose a frontier of our cooperation and collaboration.
“On that note I will like to commend the Executive Secretary and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council for collaborating with us. We need to collaborate effectively. I have looked ath the Shippers’ Council Act, I have looked at our Act and in both cases, collaboration is highlighted.
“Where there is effective collaboration, there is no room for fighting, when we collaborate, the consumers will be the beneficiaries.
Also speaking at the event, the Director of Programme, Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) Mr Emmanuel Bosah called for the enforcement of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by the NSC for effective service delivery.
He noted that Service providers in the private sector, such as shipping companies ams terminal operators must equally introduce transparent SOPs that would specify their charges, timelines, and procedures, without compromising their trade secrets.