Shippers Council to Sanction Un-registered Port Operators, As NASS Demand Data of All Port Users, Service Providers

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Nigerian Shippers Council Executive Secretary, Barr Pius Ukeyima Akutah

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigerian Shippers Council has said that beginning from third quater of the year 2024, it would commence enforcement of sanctions on service providers and port users who are yet to be registered with the Council.

Director, Consumer Affairs Department of Nigerian Shippers Council, Chief Carjetan Agu (left) and the Deputy Director of the department, Mr Celestine Akijobi at the sensitization of port service providers and port users in Lagos on Wednesday

Executive Secretary of the Council, Barr Pius Akutah stated this on Wednesday at the sensitization of stakeholders on registration of regulated port service providers and users, held in Apapa, Lagos.

Akuttah who was represented by the Director, Consumer Affairs Department, Chief Carjetan Agu, noted that the National Assembly and the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy had approached the agency since December, demanding a comprehensive data of all port practitioners and service providers.

He said that the essence of the ongoing sensitization is to bring all practitioners to register with the council or risk applicable sanctions.
So far, Barr Akuta lamented that only 185 port operators are registered with the council.

“This has been an ongoing service, and this sensitization has taken us to Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Warri. This is the first one we are doing in Lagos. This particular sensitization is for terminal operators, shipping companies, offdock terminal operators and Stevedoring companies.

“In 2015, the Council was appointed port economic regulator and the mandate given to the council was to develop a regulatory regime for the control of tariff rates, charges and other economic activities. In doing this, one of its roles is to register all service providers in the sector.

“If you are a regulator, you are supposed to know your customers, it is in this spirit that we are carrying out this exercise.

“When we started, it was a manual process, but we have now automated the registration process. Within minutes, even from the comfort of your homes, you can go through the registration process, make payments and equally print your certificate by yourself.

“Registration is compulsory, we have gone through the list of those registered with the council and we have realised that many people are yet to register with us.

“Shippers Council believes in persuasion and not coercion, but when we discover that the level of compliance is low, we might be forced to uphold the law, because their are certain provisions that prescribes punishment for non-registration.

“One of the benefits of registration is passing of information. Also in the past, people bring in offensive goods at the port and upon investigation, they will say they were imported by faceless Shippers. But after this registration, the issue of faceless Shippers will become a thing of the past” he said

Also speaking, Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs Department of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Mr Celestine Akijobi said that in December 2023, the National Assembly demanded a list of all the port service providers, freight forwarders, terminal operators.

“They demanded a complete list of everyone operating at the port that are registered. However, what we did was to discuss with them that getting the list as at that time was not possible, but that we would do everything within first and second quater of this year.

“We are creating this awareness and sensitization for practitioners, so that when enforcement starts, nobody would say that they are not aware.
The emphasis of this registration platform is not for money making, and that is why the rates applicable are so low.

“In terms of sanctions, we have not been carrying out our duty, this is because there are sanctions applicable for non registration, we just want to make sure we carry everyone along” he said

According to Akujobi, enforcement will commence in the third quater of the year 2024.

Part of the sanctions which he took time to reel out to the participants include; withdrawal of shippers council services from defaulters, stopping such agency or company from operating at the port, blacklisting defaulters and publishing their names on national newspapers, among others.

He added that any shipping company or terminal operator that offers services to unregistered port service providers and user will also be sanctioned.

One of the benefits of registration according to the Shippers Council, is that it would eradicate importation of unwholesome cargoes to Nigerian Ports. This is because the issue of faceless importers would no longer be applicable.

It would also benefit shipping companies in locating their empty containers which hitherto is being stolen by freight forwarders who make use of pseudo names and addresses.

Akujobi assured that the Shippers Council platform is linked to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and many other platforms in order to discover in real time, the genuineness of any registration done online.
For freight forwarders registration, he said the Council is working with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)

Also following, the latest announcement of a National Single Widow Platform for the country by President Bola Tinubu, Akujobi assured that when it comes on stream, the Council’s platform would be integrated.

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