By Chidubem Anthony
In a move considered more practical and result-oriented in achieving the ease of doing business initiative at the ports sector, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has harmonized and reduced the tariff nomenclatures at the seaports from 22 to five.
NSC Executive Secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, disclosed during a courtesy call on the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos that the agency has been engaging shipping agents, and both “have already agreed on a structured, harmonised tariff nomenclature.
He said the charges were “being reviewed and agreed, and will soon be presented to stakeholders, especially MAN, for validation. We used to have 22 charges, but now they have been compressed into five.”
Bello, who also indicated that the high haulage costs at the ports were being tackled, said the visit was in continuation of the consultations with stakeholders, and in this instance “to solicit for MAN’s support to agree on a framework for collaboration in addressing some of the challenges in the ports.
“We are talking about the reduction in dwell time of cargoes at Nigerian ports. We are a member of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme. Our pre-occupation is geared towards fast-tracking the procurement of scanners for the ports and borders to aid quick examination of cargoes.
“The poor road infrastructure is equally being addressed; Standard Operating Procedure for port agencies and operators is another veritable tool directed at cost reduction and delays. This will also enhance port deficiency.
“The NSC is also a facilitator of trade, and we are looking at reducing total cost of transportation of cargoes to and from the seaports. Some of the efforts to reduce transportation cost will include review of local shipping charges and tariff nomenclature, improving countries’ connectivity index, automation and upgrade of transport infrastructure, and genuine fight against corruption.”
To achieve these, “we are negotiating, because Nigeria is a country of laws, and we respect contracts. We are also a member of PEBEC and are ready to promote ease of doing business in the ports. It is time for the NSC and MAN to come together to create a platform where policies are examined to have a tremendous impact on Nigeria’s production climate.”
On his part, MAN President, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, noted that the success of the nation’s manufacturing sector is tied to that of the NSC, therefore the need for continuous interaction between both bodies to improve the sector.
According to him, “for the last three years, the Federal Government has engaged in policies aimed at transforming the national economy from a monolithic economy to a diversified economy. This diversification will open up the economy, and will have tremendous benefits for we manufacturers. “We thank the NSC for initiating this interaction with MAN, and it is my hope that this will be the beginning of a serious engagement and collaboration between both organisations.”