Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sanction operators who flout economic regulations in the nation’s maritime sector.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime disclosed this yesterday, stressing that MOU became necessary to address the lack of enabling laws to sanction errant port operators in the country.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, the NSC boss expressed optimism that the agreement with the FCCPC will institute an effective consumer protection regime in Nigeria’s maritime industry.
His words: “We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the FCCPC. This is to institute a consumer protection regime for the shipping and port industry. We have now concluded the inauguration of a joint committee that will drive the implementation of that MoU between us and the FCCPC.”
“I will take a few minutes to explain the reason behind this MoU with the FCCPC. A number of times, port users have come to us with complaints which we tackle. However, there are usually no sanctions because the Shippers Council does not have such powers to sanction.”
“The legal framework that empowers the Shippers Council to intervene in disputes has limitations that does not allow us to go as far as everybody expects in the maritime industry. It is important to begin to drive that advocacy that improves the legal framework of the Shippers Council to sanction. You cannot regulate unless you are also able to sanction. The sanction mechanism available to us at the NSC is not effective enough because the law does not allow us to go as far as we want to go.”
“This is the reason why we decided to go into a partnership with the FCCPC. As you know, the FCCPC is an agency of government that has the powers to arrest, prosecute and sanction. Their ability to do this is far beyond the capacity of the Shippers Council.”
He also added that the agreement provides additional support when NSC intervenes in commercial disputes between the cargo owners, importers, shipping companies and terminal operators.
“My take on this is that we don’t really need to be depending on another government agency to carry out our functions, but as it stands today, that is the constrain that we find ourselves in,” he posited.
Meanwhile, he opined that the National Transport Commission (NTC) bill would have given the organization powers it has sought with the partnership with FCCPC.
“NTC bill has been processed more than three times at the National Assembly but has not been signed by Mr. President. As we speak, it is on the President’s desk, but has not been signed. Meaning that process too has fault. Aside the NTC bill, there are a couple of legislation that are lying there at the National Assembly unattended to. These legislation, if promulgated, will give us the necessary legal framework to do our jobs better,” he added.