The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has said it has become necessary to protect barge operations in Nigeria from foreigners’ domination.The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Council, Barrister Hassan Bello said this on Friday when he received the executives of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) at the Council’s head office in Lagos.
Earlier, BOAN through its President, Mr. Edema Keliekume, had explained the challenges of the indigenous operators to Bello, saying the foreigners had more expertise, more money and better skills of the business than their Nigerian counterparts who are just coming into the business.
He lamented how members had no access to loans whereas the foreigners have access to zero interest loans and are able to afford more sophisticated facilities.
According to him, multiple taxation from different agencies claiming regulatory functions over the business is another factor working against the success of the business.
“We want singular regulatory agency and singular annual charge for smooth operations,” he pleaded.
Responding, the NSC boss assured the group of protection from foreign domination, using the Cabotage Act if applicable.
He added that the business must not be made an all comers affair, adding that there should be regulation of entry and exit into the business.
Bello said, “It all based on bringing down the cost of doing business and the ease of business, protecting indigenous capacity. As far as barge operation is concerned, it is important we look at the Cabotage Act and see how the barge operations will fit in into those areas which is important for Nigerians.
“It is very important to safeguard barge operations as a means of conveying cargo and bring them out of the port. It is one of the multimodal approach we have always talked about. It will go a long way in making our ports attractive
“However, barge operation is specialised and a lot of technical and economic regulations are required
“I am happy the barge operators came here and we discussed the issues of security, safety and insurance, carriage of goods and many other minimum standards for the crew of the berges themselves and even the jetties where they bring out these goods.
“We are in dialogue because we are concerned with the time, the cargo and the insurance even with the frequency of the sailings,” he maintained