Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr Emmanuel Jime, has reiterated Federal Government’s commitment through the council to reduce the cost of shipping in the country. Jime said that the most important component in doing business, particularly trade “is the cost factor. The Shippers’ Council is in some cases involved in advocacy and at the present time, we are lucky that the Federal Government in its wisdom set up an inter-agency platform called Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM). And the Shippers’ Council was given the leadership on that particular platform. That is the platform that is now gradually beginning to introduce some kind of sanity in the business place as far as our ports are concerned. Any infractions, particularly those that are bothering on corrupt tendencies; we have a responsibility of putting a stop and ensuring as much as possible, we are eliminating incidence of corrupt practices in our ports.
“Whether it is engendered by officials of government or by other private members or private citizens who are doing business in our ports. This, and a couple of other things, which if you look at our website, you will be able to appreciate the extent to which Shippers’ Council is involved in ensuring that the cost of doing business in Nigeria is brought to its lowest minimum as far as we possibly can,’’ he said. According to the NSC boss, if the cost of doing business is high, there are implications in the inability for the business to be conducted in a profitable and efficient manner. He said that the high cost of shipping, which was not peculiar to Nigeria, necessitated the Union of African Shippers Council (UASC) to organise an experts committee meeting to suggest ways of mitigating it. “Therefore, as a key requirement for trade, the Shippers’ Councils in Africa, particularly within the West Africa and Central Africa sub-region have recognise the need to engage in cost mitigating measures.
“It is clear that Africa in the sub-region has woken up to the reality to do something fundamental to change that particular factor of doing business in a way that can positively affect the doing of business across our borders. We are working together with sister nations to provide solutions as to how we can we mitigate the cost of doing business. Now we are waiting for the reports from the committee of experts to come out so that we can speak more directly to the issues that have been canvassed. But as a nation, from our own country’s experience, I can say without any question of doubt in my mind that there are several factors that are making it impossible for us to conduct businesses at cost effectiveness,’’ he said. Jime said that the cumbersome clearance process in the ports, lack of infrastructure, corruption and the like, made it difficult for investors to do business, thus posing a challenge. He said that the council was however working with the Nigerian Customs to ensure speedy clearance process through electronic means.
“The other issue that the Shippers’ Council is handling is the Border Information Centres that we are establishing all around the border towns. This will link us with our neighbours whether it is at Seme, whether it is in Jimia and of course, around the Cameroon-Nigeria border. We are putting those border information centres because our belief is that traders need to be offered the information that they may need for them to be successful in trading across our borders. At the moment, there is a lot more informal trading that are going on. In other words, we don’t have a very formal trading network that is in place to assist our traders to be able to maximise the doing of business across our border. In the wisdom of the Shippers’ Council, we felt the need to establish this border information centres so that they are able to assist traders with the necessary information that they may need.’’ (NAN)