APPFLON CONDEMNS EXCLUSION OF STAKEHOLDERS INPUT ON REVIEW OF PORT CONCESSION AGREEMENT
*Calls on Transport Minister to intervene
-By McAnthony Onuoha
Condemnations have trailed exclusion of major stakeholders in the maritime industry ,most especially, the Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) from making input on the preparation of what seems to be a surreptitious concession agreement.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday, the 9th of April, 2020,by the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APPFLON), made available to the media, its National President,Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, said that exclusion of Nigerian Shipper’s Council and other stakeholders from making inputs on the Ports concession agreement is an indication that the process lacked transparency, as it was shrouded in secrecy.
He called on all stakeholders to reject the agreement in its entirety for the good of the industry in particular and Nigeria in general.
Earlier on, the Shipper’s Association, Lagos State (SALS) through its President, Rev Dr.Jonathan Nicole, had lent its voice in condemning the exercise as it beckoned on the Federal Government of Nigeria to turn down any port concession agreement prepared by Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) without inputs by industry stakeholders.
He insisted that it would be foolhardy on the side of Government to accept another port concession agreement that was secretly prepared by the NPA without the knowledge and inputs of industry key players.
In the same vein, Freight Forwarders also shown displeasure for the sad development, alleging that NPA is reneging on earlier promises to interface with stakeholders after close door meetings with Terminal Operators.
The condemnations came up as aftermath of the protest letter written to Federal Ministry of Transport by the Executive Secretary of NCS, Mr.Hassan Bello, which he demanded for due process.
Meanwhile, APPFLON through its National President, unequivocally, condemned the process of the concession agreement, saying that exclusion of Nigerian Shipper’s Council and other stakeholders from the entire exercise was shocking, describing it as a great insult on the sensibilities of Nigerians, as well as an affront to all industry Operators .
Furthermore, Otunba Ogunojemite lamented that NSC as port economic regulator, shouldn’t have by any reason be shut out of the concession agreement.
In his words, “We are talking of economic regulator, which is NSC. why should it be excluded from such critical development?
This is obviously a tussle for power and influence in the Port industry, but it is uncalled for.
“NPA should realise that it would subject the nation’s port sector to numerous challenges that wouldn’t have been, if stakeholders were given the opportunity to make inputs”.
Otunba Ogunojemite pointed out that neglecting Nigerian Shipper’s Council’s input on policy making in the maritime sector is indirectly stripping it of its statutory powers (if any), thereby placing it on a pedestal where it would be seen as serving no practical purpose. He further urged the Government to empower the body with needed instrument of authority to enable it carry out its regulatory duties efficiently, and to the betterment of the Maritime sector.
He also urged the Minister of Transport to intervene in the matter by calling NPA to order, and to ensure that NSC, freight forwarders, Shipper’s, Customs and other relevant industry stakeholders are allowed to make inputs on the review.