Group Drums Support For National Transport Commission Bill | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Group Drums Support For National Transport Commission Bill

Posted: May 20, 2016 at 5:28 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
…Wants Nigerian Shippers Council? Upgraded To Commission
The Maritime Advocacy Group of Nigeria, an interest group in the nation’s maritime sector, has drummed support for the proposed National Transport Bill, describing it as a the most important legislative intervention the 8th National Assembly would make toward the development and sustainability of the transport industry in Nigeria.
The group, which highlighted the benefits of the bill, also urged the Federal Government to take advantage of the existing body such as the Nigerian Shippers Council with already trained personnel and structure, upgrade it to the status of the proposed Commission.
The group contended that upgrading the shippers’ council would be a means to cut cost of recruitment, training and provision of infrastructure.
Hon. West Idahosa, National Co-ordinator of the Group and former lawmaker in the House of Representatives while briefing newsmen at the National Assembly on Friday ?said: “The Nigerian Shippers Council has latent statutory functions that are similar to those of an economic regulator.
“For example, Section 3 of the NSC Act, Cap. N133 LFN 2004 states the functions of the Council as: Liaise with the appropriate arms of the government of the federation and other organisations in assessing the stability and adequacies of existing services and make appropriate recommendations.
“Advise the government? of the federation through the minister on matters relating to the structure of freight rates, availability and adequacy of shipping space, frequency of sailings, terms of shipment, class and quality of vessels, port charges and facilities and other related matters,”  he noted.
He stated that “the transport industry being the life-wire of our national life and prosperity,” requires the creation of an economic regulator, a role, he said, the proposed commission is expected to perform.
He added that there was no other existing body best suited for it other than the Shippers Council with its experienced and highly professional workforce.
While reminding members of the National Assembly that passing the document into law would only help to develop the country’s  local economy through protection of interest of end users of transport services as well as job creation, Hon. Idahosa also warned the legislature on the dangers of giving unnecessary powers to the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) by passing the proposed Port and Harbour Authority Bill, saying that the proposed law is in conflict with the Transport Commission Bill which is set for public hearing next week Monday.
“It must be pointed out that industry stakeholders have observed that the proposed Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authority Bill, 2015, would threaten the efficacy and effectiveness of the proposed National Transport Commission, if passed as it is.
“We call on all stakeholders in the Maritime Sector of the Transport Industry to resist certain provisions of the proposed Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authority Bill, 2015. 
“The Sections include Section 1(3)(f) which purports to protect the rights of interests of port service providers and commercial ports’ users. That function is best suited for a neutral economic regulator not a service provider like the Ports and Harbour Authority,” it said.
According to the statement, the proposed Section 2(d) of the Ports and Harbour Bill seeks to control any location where maritime activity is taking place instead of being limited to ports services and activities.
It describes this as “too over-reaching,” saying that it should not be allowed.
It also said: “Part IX of the Ports and Harbour Authority Bill appears to confer absolute powers on it (NPA) to levy, fix and charge fees etc without any intervention of the proposed economic regulator (the National Transport Commission), in contravention of the powers already reserved for the Commission in Part VI of the proposed National Transport Commission Bill, 2015.”
“On the whole, while the National Transport Commission is a desired development, the proposed Ports and Harbour Authority Bill is unworthy as it is capable of sustaining the old order of confusion, corruption and inefficiency which today’s Nigeria is determined to put behind it,” the advocacy group stressed.