The Nigeria Shippers' Council (NSC) is positioning itself to play a pivotal role in the nation's economic recovery efforts, from both growth and development perspectives. The Council believes that it can raise non-oil revenue substantially from what obtains at present and, to do this, the Council's executive secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, assured the nation, and stakeholders in particular, that reforms undertaken in the past years had made Nigeria's seaports more efficient and competitive. Despite the fact that some of the policies appear to have stifling effects on import trade, these policies, if properly executed and monitored, are capable of contributing substantially to the nation's revenue base. Given the situation the country finds itself with dwindling revenue from oil and not much from the non-oil sector, it will be worthwhile to include harborages in the scheme of things within the recovery strategy as a possible key revenue-generating alternative.
The new port order is designed to check inefficiency, leakages in the harborages and trade malpractices that include false declaration and under-declaration of imported goods, among others, all in the bid to avoid paying the necessary taxes and dues to the government of Nigeria. This is where the NSC comes in; as a regulator of the sub-sector, the Nigeria Shippers' Council has the responsibility to ensure that the ports are run in line with best practices so that our ports will not only compete with neighbouring seaports like those of Cotonou and Ghana, but surpass them in efficiency and transparency, for it to be the preferred seaport of choice in the West African region and beyond. This is particularly important as it will address, to a large extent, the twin evils of smuggling and pilferages both of which are serious crimes of economic sabotage.
As the economic regulator of the sub-sector, the Nigeria Shippers' Council tells us that with the present policy and the strategy it had proposed to embark on, the NSC is prepared to work with relevant agencies to ensure that Nigeria gets what is due her in revenue. The NSC has, as part of its strategy, to enforce regulation among service providers and landlords of the system so that they live up to expectations in their individual and collective obligations at the ports as contained in the concession agreement. The purpose is to ensure infrastructure rehabilitation and provision of state of the art cargo handling equipment to facilitate quick discharge of cargoes from ships and subsequent positioning of containers for examination and clearance by freight forwarders. With adequate cargo-handling equipment, the ships' dwell time in the ports will be reduced, a situation that ship owners will find pleasing and therefore attractive for business. This will propel revenue generation and increased income for stakeholders.
We, therefore, call on the government to provide policies or review existing policies where necessary, in order to strengthen the administration and management of the harborages in order to enable the country get optimal benefits from the seaport operations on the road to economic recovery.
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