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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

NSC Boss Tasks Shipping Lines On Govt Directives On Trade

Mr Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has urged terminal operators to comply with the Presidential Directive on Ease of Doing Business to make Nigerian ports more attractive to shippers.

Bello said this when he led other management staff on a visit to Grimaldi, Maersk and CMA/CGM terminals on Monday in Lagos.

Following the directive of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, under the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the NSC visited the terminals on a fact-finding mission.

The visit was also to strike a balance between the shipping lines and the port users.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had recently endorsed and signed three Executive Orders expected to boost Nigeria’s concept of Ease of Doing Business.

The development would increase patronage for locally manufactured goods.

Osinbajo said the concept would remove all bureaucratic bottlenecks that stifled the growth of businesses in Nigeria.

The three executive orders touched on specific instructions on a number of policy issues.

The issues include the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment designed to facilitate the Ease of Doing Business in the country; timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies.

The agencies also include companies owned by the Federal Government; and support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government.

According to him, it is important for all the shipping companies to make information available to their customers on their website to reduce human elements at the ports.

He said that it was necessary for the government to create a conducive atmosphere to enable private investors to continue to invest in the country.

“The Nigerian Shippers’ Council is making efforts to guarantee the return of containers by freight forwarders.

“The freight forwarders could return containers before three to four days free period, based on the period given for returning of cargo without paying any money.

“The issue of gridlock is what everybody is suffering but the issue of demurrage is building up in spite of the situation.

“Freight forwarders are requesting for a longer period of time instead of the 21-day free period before demurrage starts counting.

“We hope you will put the policy into consideration of more than 21 days before counting of demurrage,’’ Bello said.

He said that the council was promoting Truck Transit Park to enable “the NSC take the trucks off the highways and decongest port access roads’’.

Bello said that the NSC was making the project possible with the support of other government agencies and urged the shipping lines to key into the government project to facilitate trade.

He requested for elongation of more days before demurrage charges due to the economic situation in the country.

Responding, the Managing Director of Grimaldi, Ascanio Russo, said the company operates the shipping line, Grimaldi Group Agency and Grimaldi Ports.

He said that his company would always ensure smooth cargo operations in Nigeria, adding that Grimaldi Group had companies in Europe and other countries.

Russo said that his company does not waste time in providing Bill of Lading to Customs which he said had multiplier effects on their business.

“Customs get all information online and they also do their transaction online. We also refund their container deposits immediately we receive online information on the return of the cargo.

“Grimaldi refunds the container deposit within three days before the four days free period, without allowing the freight forwarder to come to the ports.

“About 80 percent of customers comply with the 21-day free period before demurrage charges start counting.

“We support our client by transferring containers through barges to Mile 2 for customs to pick them up and save them from gridlock on ports access roads,’’ Russo said.

He pleaded with the NSC to support terminal operators by removing touts off the terminal entrance, saying that many touts roamed around the entrance of ports.

Russo urged the government to make the truck park at Tin Can Island Port accessible for truck owners to reduce the gridlock on ports access road.

Also speaking, the Director, Customer Services, Maersk Line, Mr Rasak Ngula, said his company made manifests available to three government agencies and captains onboard vessels.

“We send different platforms of electronic manifests and hard copies of the manifests to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Customs Service and Captains onboard vessels

“Over 5,000 operators have shifted to our service due to transparency in our operations.

“About 96 percent of our shipping transactions are being done online, while customers receive prompt information online as well as on mobile phones,’’ Ngula said.

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