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NPA boss, Usman, LCCI, maritime stakeholders for industry town hall meeting tomorrow

The managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Halima Usman has confirmed attendance at a one-day Town Hall meeting in Lagos where maritime stakeholders will gather to review performances of the sector.

She will present a paper bordering on the ongoing reforms at the ports and how stakeholders will join hands to make things work better for the ports and the economy in general.

Major stakeholders expected at the meeting include the hierarchy of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and business leaders in the maritime industry.

The meeting takes place at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.

Key target of the meeting will be to evaluate the cost and operational factors that make shippers patronise ports in neighbouring countries, a situation usually called ship diversion.

Analysts say the development has compelled the Federal Government to ban the importation of vehicles through land borders in an attempt to prop up the fortunes of some private terminal operators some of whom have down sized their staff strength due to low patronage of the roll-on roll-off facilities.

Expected at the meeting include foreign shipping community which ships most of the country’s import and export cargoes. Its umbrella group, the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) with Chief Val Usifo as chairman will give the major shipping companies’ perspective on the state of terminal operations in Nigerian ports.

Speaking on the options before government on curbing what people call ship diversion, Mr. Okey Ibeke, publisher of Business and Maritime West Africa magazine, organisers of the town hall, said contrary to its recent move in banning importation of cars through the borders, patronage should not be legislated.

“Rather, the informed views of terminal operators, providers of shipping services and shippers should be harnessed to design a veritable policy that will effectively address the issues. This town hall meeting is providing that platform and the recommendations will aid government and its relevant agencies to respond to the challenges with strategies that will endure”, Ibeke said.

The lead paper will be presented by the executive secretary of Nigerian Shippers’Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, with Princess Vicky Haastrup, chairperson of the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), the group for the private companies that took over terminal operations from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) 10 years ago following up.

Papers will also be presented the managing director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, director general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, MAN, LCCI and freight forwarding groups.

Arising from the presentations,  the forum will examine:

Major issues to be discussed include the level of competitiveness of Nigerian ports, templates for port pricing, availability and efficiency of cargo handling equipment, impact of foreign exchange and fiscal policies and abuse of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) Protocol by neighbouring countries.

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