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NSC, NPA at War with PTOL over Rate Increment

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From all indications, a confrontation may be brewing between the management of  Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority, and  terminal operator, Port and Terminal Operators Limited, over increment in terminal handling charges.

The NSC and NPA had, in a meeting on Thursday in Lagos, asked the PTOL to reverse its recent rates increase or face sanctions.

In the meeting, the NSC – as the economic regulator – noted that the increment was arbitrary and without due consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the regulatory authorities.

Both agencies advised PTOL to present its proposed increases for negotiation through official channels as soon as possible, a statement by the NSC’s Head of Public Relations, Rakiya Zubairu, noted.

According to NSC’s Ag Executive Secretary, Ms Ifeoma Ezedinma, who convened the meeting, such act will attract sanctions because the agency, through public notices, visits and correspondences, always advises regulated service providers to adhere to the law.

Citing breach of Clause 5:5 of her agency’s lease agreement with PTOL, the NPA General Manager (Monitoring and Regulatory Service), Mrs Ugo Madubuike, reminded the terminal operator that “the lessee shall not make any increase in the operation rate unless agreed to in writing by the parties and any required persons or governmental authority.”

Also, the NSC Director, Consumer Affairs, Cajetan Agu, asked the terminal operator to revert to its old rates until due process is followed, as its actions contravened its lease contract and violated the NSC Act.

Likewise, the Director, Legal Services Department of NSC, Tahir Idris, advised PTOL to obtain documents on the agency’s legal framework to acquaint itself with the regulatory procedures of tariff increase and to be guided on right protocol.

Meanwhile, PTOL General Manager, Macpherson Nwaukoni, has apologised for the oversight in implementing the new tariff regime, stating that the company took the decision because it was incurring much operational losses.

He attributed the losses to the country’s ban on certain import items, making the company unable to meet its obligations, especially rental debt to the lessor. He appealed for leniency, as PTOL had not increased charges in 16 years and was currently running at a loss.

Nwaukoni explained that in comparison, his company’s rates are much lower than the charges by other terminals, and all these factors have made their operations difficult and prompted the 15-30 per cent raise in tariff.

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Maritime

NIMS To Hold 2022 Summit In July

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Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS)

The Governing Board of the Nigeria International Maritime Summit (NIMS) has announced that the 2022 edition of the summit will hold from 5th to 6th July 2022 in Lagos, Nigeria.

According to the secretariat, the 2022 summit will sustain the massive acclaim achieved by the first edition held in 2021, and to further consolidate on the event’s foothold as the go-to location for maritime business in Nigeria.

A statement from the secretariat described the Nigeria International Maritime Summit as a whole-of-value-chain event aimed at leveraging the Nigerian maritime industry’s diverse strengths to unlock economic potential through collaboration.

“NIMS aims at setting an agenda and offering solutions for maritime business, policy, and operations in Nigeria. It also promotes a strategic and practical approach to policy implementation and decision-maker accountability,” the secretariat stated.

The secretariat further stated that the 2022 event will incorporate all the highlights that elevated the inaugural event as a key maritime industry fixture.

“Apart from the high-level sessions that will touch on the most important issues affecting operations and policy, NIMS 2022 will feature a maritime industry exhibition dedicated to the promotion of Nigerian and international maritime and related businesses. Networking events will also feature strongly to boost business-to-business and business-to-government interactions and deals,” the secretariat added.

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Maritime Transport Unions Threaten To Sue NPA Over Extortion

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#lekkideepseaport

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Transporters, under the aegis of the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), have threatened to institute legal actions against the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over extortion and breach of agreement on the electronic call-up system.

The group made the threat in a notice issued through its counsel Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa to the Managing Director of NPA, titled, “Notice of intention to commence a suit against the NPA pursuant to Section 92 (1) of the NPA Act CAP 126, LFN 2004.”

The notice reads in part: “Our client reliably informed us of certain developments and unfair activities in the maritime sector for which countless letters of complaint have been written but serially ignored by your office and other concerned offices such as the office of the Lagos State Government.

“Some of the disturbing facts, which were reliably disclosed to us are as follows: That there have been reported cases of discrepancies and misrepresentation of facts and figures emanating from the electronic call-up regime (ETO/TTP program) created by Truck Transit Park Ltd on the instruction and directives of your office, the Nigerian Port Authority. Our client is vehemently disputing the cost and value of the services being rendered by ETO/TTP as there have been cases of extortions and breach of agreement on the part of your office,” the notice stated.

According to the notice, it was mutually agreed that the sum of N10, 000 was payable for the booking process as an entry permit into the terminal but TTP now extorts a whooping sum of N31, 250.

The notice informed that contrary to the intent and purpose of TTP, which was meant to eradicate payment checkpoints, there has been a proliferation of illegal checkpoints along the terminal routes with attendant extortion of the sum of N5000 per checkpoint.

“That despite assurances to the contrary, members of our client now pay outrageous sums ranging from N50, 000 to N150, 000 to return empty containers at the authorized holding bay. That there have been cases of connivance and abuse of office by the Holding Bay operators and some agencies of the government who would arrest and impound our client’s members’ truck so as to illegally extort money from them.

“The continuous harassment and extortion of our client often lead to further arrests and detention of our client’s members by clearing agents on container demurrage. That the initial arrangements that trucks would move from the satellite parks to the pre-gate and then into the terminal within the period of two days have not been realized as trucks take more than weeks to move into the terminal from the satellite parks,” the notice added.

The group also alleged that the initial arrangement to install Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) to monitor the movement of trucks into the terminal to ensure speedy movement of vehicles and other purposes has not been affected by TTP.“ That there has been a consistent violation of movement procedures and illegal parking of trucks on the express road by some preferred truck drivers of which modus operandi are antithetical to the aim and purpose of the Electronic Call Up Regime.

“That the effort and intervention of the Minister of Transportation in setting up of the Ministerial Steering and Implementation Committee to proffer solutions associated with the ease of doing business at the Apapa/Tincan Island Port have been defeated with attendant cases of greed, extortions, harassment of truck drivers, robberies and total collapse of the accessible road networks.

“That there is an existing Presidential Executive Order vesting economic regulation of the Nigerian Ports in the hands of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council thereby making economic activities of your office illegal.

“On the other hand, the involvement and activities of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and the Lagos State Committee on Abandoned and Disused Vehicles headed by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Transport, Mr. Toyin Fayinka is regrettably inimical to the legitimate activities of the truck drivers.

That there have been cases of extortion; creation of illegal garages; indiscriminate and illegal tagging of vehicles as abandoned vehicles; compromise and selective enforcement of the law against perceived enemies and truck drivers are being extorted on a daily basis without the issuance of receipts,” the notice stated.

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LCCI: How Nigeria can be Competitive in AfCFTA

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The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, has said that for the country to be relevant in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, it needs to be competitive.

He disclosed this in Lagos on Thursday.

While underscoring the importance of competitiveness in AfCFTA, Yusuf stressed that this is the very foundation of any conversation about trade because those engaging in it, whether within or outside the country, have no sentiment about it.

He argued that if what one is providing is not competitive in price, it is of no relevance because the consumer is not interested in whether it is made-in-Nigeria or not.

“What one is interested in, is how he or she can maximise what we call ‘utility’ in economics, how he can maximise or benefit from the little money he wants to spend. So, that is why the emphasis has to be on how we can make ourselves competitive,” he said.

The LCCI boss recalled that the manufacturing sector kicked against AfCFTA, hence Nigeria was one of the last to ratify the agreement. 

“They have looked at all the things around them and said as far as production is concerned, there is no way they can compete. And you can’t blame them because you are the investor, you have committed capital, you have imported machines, have a lot of assets, many of them immovable and you put all these investments in place based on specific competitiveness assumptions.”

Yusuf, however, added that the parameters for the competitiveness have begun to change.

His words, “You have looked at the market, you have done some competitive analysis and said yes, this investment will fly. Now the assumptions have changed, the competition parameter is now changing; you are now facing new competitors.

Meanwhile, the domestic environment has not changed, your tax environment has not changed, the port environment has not changed, the cost of funds, the regulations, the lending and all of that. The infrastructure issues are still there. So, it is a dangerous challenge.

“We have already ratified and so, hopefully and prayerfully, there will be no going back so that we don’t have the kind of thing we have in Brexit, after UK joined and said it is pulling out. I pray we are not going to get there because a whole lot of countries are much better prepared.

MUDA YUSUF, DG LCCI

“It was because of this preparedness issue in 2018, that the President set up a Readiness and Impact Assessment Committee when the manufacturers  complained to know what exactly was needed to ensure that we are better prepared; to ensure that our stakeholders and investors can be part of this system and also benefit from the continental market.”

Yusuf said although the committee had done its investigations and submitted its report, nothing had changed.

“The committee was set up to look at the readiness issues, the committee submitted its report on readiness issues around the ports, around the aviation, road, power and around all the problems that investors are facing. The report has been submitted, the situation has not changed, nothing is even happening, the situation is even getting worse,” he stressed.

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