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Maritime stakeholders set to review ease of doing business at ports in Lagos

Come March 8, leading shipping and ports related experts will converge in Lagos to look at challenges and prospects of emerging reforms at ports.

The town hall scheduled will be chaired by the Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on “Cargo Handling and Port Charges” to evaluate the state of port operations, quality of services and the factors that determine appropriate cargo handling charges.

The summit stemmed from a recent audit report that revealed that private terminal operators in Nigerian ports lost about N58.9 billion to the rising foreign exchange scarcity, Consumer Price Index (CPI), and others, in eight years

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and her Industry, Trade and Investment counterpart, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, are also expected as special guests of honour.

Among the issues to be discussed are: the level of competitiveness of Nigerian ports, templates for port pricing; availability and efficiency of cargo handling equipment; impact of foreign exchange and government’s fiscal policies; and abuse of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) Protocol by shippers.

According to a statement by the organisers of the town hall meeting, since the concession of the ports to private terminal operators over 10 years ago, Nigeria’s economy has undergone fundamental changes characterised by exchange rate vagaries and fiscal policy reviews.

The development “have impacted substantially on the level of service delivery at the ports.“Importers, manufacturers and other port users alongside service providers have a lot of outstanding issues the failure of which to resolve have affected the growth of the industry. These will be addressed at the town hall with policy makers and users of shipping services all poised to make their case”.

Other key stakeholders coming for the conference include private terminal operators, shipping agencies, chambers of commerce, trade groups, freight forwarders and banks. Others are statutory agencies, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as well as marine transport committees of both arms of the National Assembly.

Analysts say the meeting will also accord observer the opportunity to assess the impacts of agency reforms in the last one year in the sector.

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