Nigeria News
We’re implementing recommendations of the Maritime Seminar for Judges – Bello

EXECUTIVE Secretary Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, said that the Council has started implementing some of the recommendations reached at the Maritime Seminar for Judges held recently.

Bello, in a chat with newsmen, said that the Legal Department of the Council had set up a committee to look at the communiqué issued at the end of the seminar with a view to implementing same. “A committee was set up at the end of the seminar. It has inter-ministerial responsibilities and they have set up a committee. It has been done to see that certain things are implemented. As you know, the maritime seminar is not just a talk shop.

Through the seminar, we have domesticated about two or three conventions, we have also done some administrative changes in maritime sector. It has influenced our judicial decisions also. So, the maritime seminar is a canvasser of thoughts. This committee that has been set up is working to see that decisions reached at the last seminar are actualised.”

Bello added that the board of Nigerian Shippers Council is technical and is being represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA.

“Also there are issue based discussions on the challenges in the maritime sector and solutions to these challenges,” he said.

On the increased jurisdiction of the Council, whether there is a corresponding increment on their financial allocations, Bello said: “We love that the Shippers Council is ready to go on. As a matter of fact, we have made presentation and I am sure it is being looked at. We want to bring more revenue to the government. Through the Customs, we could triple the revenue coming from the ports if given the chance to work. We have started. We will soon make profound statement on issues that we have negotiated.”

*Hassan Bello

Doorsteps of shippers

On the position of the Inland Container Depots otherwise called Dry Ports, Bello said: “It is going on. We have just turned the sod for Funtua. The concessionaire will start construction very soon. We have had discussion with Oyo State Government, the Ibadan ICD and many others are in the pipeline. I think the idea has gone down now, it is being accepted. If we have the dry port, it means we are taking shipping to the door steps of shippers. It means that Apapa Port and road would be free from congestion.  It means that the economy of the places where these ICD’s are located will boom because there are other industries attached to it. The haulage industry, the warehouses and so on, and the cost of transportation would reduce drastically.

“We are working with customs, what is left now is the legal framework and this has been sent to the President by the Minister of Transport. The moment it comes out, construction will start. And then these ports will be ports of destination and ports of origin, which means through bill of lading, you can consign cargo to Funtua from Denmark and when they come, they will not be examined at Apapa, they will just be taken by train to Funtua where they will be examined and you see the train is working now.  When we are fully done, all these trucks coming, you will not see them littering the roads any more, they will be in the localities of the ports. So, it will solve the perennial congestion at the port. It will be faster and it will reduce transport cost.”

On multi-model transport system in the country, Bello said: “That is what we have been doing. Multi-model transportation is the way to go about it. We are even supported by the United Nations Convention on carriage of goods wholly or partly by sea otherwise known as the Rotterdam Rules, which we crafted together with all the African countries. This is a goods convention which supports multi-modalism it will support inter-modalism. That is what is ideal.  It is a model where sea ports are linked with the rail s, roads and inland waterways. Now in Nigeria, 80 per cent of the carriage is by roads. That is why we have problem with the roads. So, if we have other means of transport we will use them. The ports particularly, must be linked with many modes of transportation. So, multi-modalism is the future and Nigerian is already moving in that direction.”

Talking on the concept of Transit Parks, Bello, said the truck transit park is a Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) initiative for infrastructure change.

“There is much deficit in infrastructure and Nigeria will have to modernise its transport infrastructure. Now, we can’t have trailers or trucks parked indiscriminately. That is why we said we could have a truck transit park. It is a modern way where we have parking spaces off the main way, where you have fuel stations, gas stations, hostels, shops, everything, the modern way of doing this thing,” he said.

He added: “This is a revenue booster, we have been allocated land in Kogi State, for example, and this is where we will have the initial one. We are also talking with NNPC, which would like to have their retail outlets in these structures. By the end of next year, we hope that one or two trailer parks will be ready. We are working with other agencies of the government like the Road Safety Corps, and so on.

Now, there should be some facilities which have been recommended by ECOWAS protocol on weights of goods by these trucks. It will reduce congestion; ensure the safety and security of cargoes. There will be trackers all over, where you track your cargo. It is a civilised way of doing things.”

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