The Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello has revealed that despite the desire of the Federal Government to implement reforms in the Nigerian maritime sector, some seaport terminal operators are resisting regulation.
Speaking on Tuesday at a one day talk shop on a decade of Nigerian Ports Concession, organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Bello bemoaned the attitude of some seaport terminal operators to the change mantra of the Federal Government.
“The maritime concessionaires, shipping companies and others have shown enough courage to invest in Nigeria; we should never forget that they have option to move elsewhere.
“However, there is need for the private sector to behave responsibly. There are a lot of sharp practises going on inside the ports like not positioning the containers when it’s time to do so, rent seeking activities etc.
“We have found out that some terminal operators are very far ahead than others. While some terminal operators have embraced automation, certain terminals operators are still operating primitively. These terminals will not embrace automation. These terminal operators resist regulation vehemently, not knowing that the regulation is for their own good.
“For example, the case we have with the terminal operators and some shipping companies has taken the shine off the regulation we have put in place. This has also brought a lot of delay in some areas where we would have gone very far by now.
“This is so because some of these terminal operators believe we cannot audit them, or that they are above the law. It is important that investors subject themselves to the laws of the land where they are operating in. After all, they are operating in other courts, so why is Nigeria’s case different,” he said.
“Reforms are coming and they will come. I have always told the seaport terminal operators that they should get ready for reforms. I have told the freight forwarders that it is important they consolidate. The problem with the reform is that it is either they are in sync with it or it comes and sweeps them away.
“It is good that MARAN is bringing up this kind of discussion now. Programmes like this should be a national discussion because it is all about correcting the mistakes that were done during the port concession.
“Yes, we want the private sector to come in and help us develop our economy, but that private sector must also be responsible. For example, we are in depression and it is important that operators identify with what the country is passing through.”