A Port Harcourt-based licensed customs agent Sir Enoch Ukaegbu has called on the federal government to appoint an independent regulatory body for efficient and effective control of the nation’s seaports.
Sir Ukaegbu who stated this in an interview with The Tide on Tuesday in Port Harcourt faulted the move by some government agencies of the Federal Ministry of Transport to transform into the commercial regulatory body.
He stressed the need for an independent outfit noting that the regulatory body must have the capacity to perform the function effectively and also look at the law and implement it to the letter. He explained that in other countries like South Africa and India, there are regulators who are not only independent but also protect the interest of local operators against foreign exploitation.
According to him, these countries have different regulators for tariff and for operations. He observed that the management of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) are players in the port system and therefore would not be able to perform the function of the regulator without being influenced by their interests.
He slammed the NSC whom he said is supposed to protect the interest of shippers in the country, and expressed regret that it has since become the government mouth piece in matters concerning shipping.
Sir Ukaegbu further questioned the rationale behind NSC’s collection of one per cent revenue from the seven per cent port development levy being taken from shippers in the country and argued that the management of NSC seem confused, which is the reason why it was embarking on projects which are not backed by any law.
He observed that NSC had no legal backing to establish Inland Container Depots (ICDs) talk less of issuing certificate to any form to operate the ICD, the further noted that the law establishing NSC does not mention ICD. According to him, it is only Section 65-71 of the Customs and Execise Management Act (CEMA) and the Port Act that talked about bonded terminals.
It would be recalled that the management of NSC has been clamouring for the federal government to support its clamour to transform into a regulator for the ports system.