Stakeholders Unanimously Endorse Repeal and Re-Enactment of Shippers’ Council Bill

In a resounding show of support, stakeholders in the maritime industry have overwhelmingly accepted the proposed repeal and re-enactment of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Economic Regulatory Bill during a public hearing held at the National Assembly in Abuja.

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Stakeholders Unanimously Endorse Repeal and Re-Enactment of Shippers’ Council Bill

The public hearing, which was attended by representatives from various sectors of the industry, including shipping companies, freight forwarders, and cargo owners, saw a unanimous endorsement of the proposed legislation.

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The new bill, which seeks to repeal the existing Nigerian Shippers’ Council Act and enact a new Shippers’ Council and Economic Regulatory Act, aims to strengthen the regulatory framework for the maritime industry and promote economic growth.

Recall that following the Federal Government’s announcement of the NSC as a Port economic regulator, the agency has struggled to enforce sanctions on ports and shipping stakeholders in the nation’s maritime sector due to the absence of an enabling law backing up their status as a Port Economic Regulator.

Stakeholders, on Monday, praised the proposed legislation for its provisions, which include the establishment of a more effective and efficient regulatory framework, the promotion of competition and innovation, and the protection of the rights of shippers and other stakeholders.

During the public hearing organised by the Committee on Shipping Services and Related Matters, the Executive Secretary/ CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Pius Ukeyima Akutah, described the legislation as timely at this stage of our nation’s growth and development.

He said the need for a regulatory regime to ensure effective and efficient economic regulation for the control of tariffs, rates and charges to prevent arbitrariness is necessary.

Among many others, Akutah said the Bill will enhance the ease of doing business, minimize the high cost of doing business at the ports, ensure seamless movement of cargo, promote competition and enhance the quality of service.

“The Bill essentially embellishes the fundamentals of Economic Regulation, making all actors play by the rules,” he added.

“The Nigerian Government is evolving a Regulatory Agenda across all sectors, with economic contribution as the goal. The shipping industry should not be an exception.

“There is, therefore, no better time than now to enact this, Bill. I therefore most respectfully, urge esteemed stakeholders to make meaningful contributions toward its immediate passage and enactment.”

He further expressed his gratitude to the stakeholders for their support and assured them that the council would continue to work towards ensuring a conducive business environment for all players in the industry.

Chief Adebayo Sarumi, a former CEO of the Shippers Council said a regulatory body is late by no less than 20 years.

According to him, this will bring about a level playing field, and regulatory services and ensure that the consumers do not suffer.

Malam Hassan Bello, a former CEO of the Shippers Council said the Bill will be a crowning glory of the Federal Government’s efforts in the maritime sector.

“This proposed agency will fill the regulatory vacuum that has bedevilled the sector, the reason the ports are not making contributions. It will end the monopoly.

“The bill is fundamental and essential and will correct anomalies and guarantee efficiency and use of tech in ports operation.“

Meanwhile, Boma Alabi, SAN, representing the Shipping Lines Association of Nigeria said the body welcomes any act that will improve efficiency, lower costs and reduce bottlenecks.

She further said the Nigerian ports cost the nation twice as much as our neighbours.

Ahmed Rabiu, a concerned stakeholder said the Bill has been overdue since the time ports were concessioned, calling for its speedy consideration.

Other stakeholders like the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group backed the development.

In separate remarks, they said the absence of a regulatory agency stifled economic activities.

They further said the passage of the Bill will have a positive impact on the maritime industry, leading to increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved services for shippers and other stakeholders.

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