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Comments by Shippers’ Council may scare investors

Posted: Apr 13, 2015 at 2:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Andrew Airahuobhor


The faceoff between Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has taken a new dimension, with STOAN raising alarm that the port regulators’ ‘comments on port charges will inadvertently scare investors and port users.

STOAN is still in Court, challenging NSC’s action regarding reduction of port charges. Although the Federal High Court, Lagos, ruled in the favor of NSC in December 2014, ordering the reduction, STOAN applied for stay of execution immediately, before however, proceeding to Appeal Court in March.

STOAN alleged in a statement released at the weekend that the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, should be mindful of his comments against terminal operators at the nation’s seaports, saying  he is deliberately or unwittingly scaring away investors and port users from patronizing Nigerian ports through ‘unsubstantiated assertions on port charges.’

The association said Bello’s comments, which are published in the media and read worldwide, portray Nigerian ports in negative light to the international shipping community. “He has been deliberately making false and derogatory statements against terminal operators to the media with the aim of damaging our reputation. He has also been creating division and tension in the maritime industry as he has consistently tried to incite one group against the other.”





thereby risking possible labour unrest and disruption of services in the sector,” STOAN said in the statement signed by its spokesman, Bolaji Akinola on Sunday.

The statement noted that when someone in Bello’s position makes such utterances, the international shipping community reacts and vessels, which plan to come to Nigeria, will either come at a premium or go elsewhere. ‘These comments also scare away the much-needed foreign direct investment in the maritime sector.’

“Our modest achievements and system-oriented operations within a relatively short time have been identified to be unfavourable to those who would have preferred a business-as-usual disorderly environment.  Without a doubt, terminal operators have added much value to our ports and to the Nigerian economy in recent times,” the statement said.

STOAN described allegations about excessive charges and rent seeking behaviour against terminal operators as a calculated attempt by Mr. Bello to discredit private operators, who they said are committed under their Concession Agreements to the positive repositioning of Nigerian ports and adopting international best practices and internationally competitive rates/charges.

STOAN said that notwithstanding the tough operating environment under which they operate, its members have invested over $1billion in the acquisition of modern cargo handling equipment, facility upgrade, information and communication technology and manpower training and development over the past nine years. it added that “No fewer than 1,204 modern cargo handling equipment have been acquired by private terminal operators across the various terminals at the nation’s six major seaports since 2006.

The seaports include Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port both in Lagos; Delta Port, Warri; Calabar Port, Calabar; Rivers Port and Onne Port both in Rivers State.”

STOAN said the Minister of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Bureau Of Public Enterprises, importers, freight forwarders, other very senior government officials and stakeholders acknowledge that we have tremendously boosted efficiency at the port as shown in the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) recorded by NPA.